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It seems almost a sacrilege to present merely the 
framework — the dry bones — of those world-famed 
masterpieces of diction and character drawing, 
Shakespeare's Plays; yet, for their right under- 
standing and enjoyment, it is useful to disentangle 
the often intricate and confused substructures upon 
which they are reared, which (with one possible ex- 
ception) were taken by the poet from earlier plays 
and transformed and transfigured by his genius. 

To familiarise one's self with the main outlines 
of the plots or stories, and to refresh and clarify 
one's memory in regard to the characters and action, 
leaves one free to appreciate in full the beauty, 
charm, and force of the complete works, either when 
seen and heard on the stage, or read and re-read in 
the study. 

To the student of literature, the theatre-goer, 
and all worshippers at the shrine of the master poet, 
we therefore offer in these pages bald but fairly 
complete outlines, which follow closely the action 
of the plays, and which for the sake of clearness 
and brevity have been left free from criticism, com- 
ment, and all save the scantiest quotations, although 
the temptation to insert whole passages proved al- 
most irresistible. 

While Charles and Mary Lamb, in their ad- 


viii Preface 

mirable classic, 'Tales from Shakespeare,' give the 
main thread of narrative of twenty of the thirty- 
seven plays, their purpose was not to supply a com- 
plete synopsis of the plots or characters. We there- 
fore trust that, owing to its different scope, this 
new version will find a welcome in the world of 
books, and hopefully launch out the Comedies, 
which will soon be followed by the Tragedies and 
the Historical Plays, thus completing the list of 
Shakespeare's works for the stage. 




Midsummer Night's Dream ... . . . i 

The Tempest ^sfssrr^ 22 

As You Like It . -< 40 

The Merchant of Venice ^-i** . . . . . 63 

1/The Taming OF THE Shrew .-^ -. .... 91 

Twelfth Night . \^. 116 

t^THE Comedy of Errors 139 

^ Two Gentlemen of Verona .v^ 159 

-^Jxjve's Labour's Lost .. *^ 180 

The Winter's Tale . ^*>- 205 

^ The Merrt Wives of Windsor ' 231 

Much Ado About Nothing 258 

All's Well That Ends Well 284 

Measure for Measure 311 


Shakespeare at the Court of Euzabeth . Frontispiece 

Queen Titania and Bottom . 

Miranda's Intercession 

Rosalind Gives Orlando a Chain 

Choosing the Casket . 

Petruchio's Violence . 

Malvolio Rebukes the Revellers 

The Two Dromios Reunited . 

The Servant's Pun 

The Nine Worthies . 

Florizel Cheers Perdita . 

Falstaff Crowding into the Basket 

Beatrice and Benedict 

Helena Offers to Cure the King 

Isabella Rejects Angelo's Pro- 
posal " "318 

. Facing page 










































Act I. The rising curtain reveals a room in the 
royal palace at Athens, where King Theseus is 
conversing with Hippolyta, the lady who is to be- 
come his wife within the next few days. As their 
wedding is a cause of public rejoicing, the king bids 
one of his attendants go forth and invite the Athenian 
youths to prepare plays and other diversions to en- 
liven the joyful occasion. 

The servant has barely disappeared, when Egeus, 
an Athenian citizen, is ushered in. He is followed 
by his daughter and her two suitors, and has come 
here to ask the king to use his authority and enforce 
an old Athenian law, which decrees that any maiden, 
dwelling within the city walls, shall either marry the 
suitor her father chooses, forfeit her life, or become a 
votary of Diana. 

Unable to deny the existence of such a law, 
Theseus talks to the young lady, whose name is 
Hermia, gravely advising her to obey her father. 
But Hermia argues that Lysander, the lover of her 

2 Stories of Shakespeare^ s Comedies 

choice, is more than the equal of Demetrius, whom 
her father wishes her to marry, and that nothing 
save unreasoning prejudice prevents Egeus from ap- 
proving of her choice. 

On perceiving how obstinately this fair maiden 
clings to her lover, Theseus vainly tries to awe her 
by repeating the conditions of the law, and finally de- 
cides to grant her a brief respite, during which she 
can determine what she will do. But Demetrius 
urges her to favour his suit, demanding coolly that 
her lover Lysander relinquish all claims to her hand. 

Not at all prepared to desert his lady-love thus, 
Lysander ironically advises Demetrius to be satisfied 
with the father's affections, without trying to se- 
cure those of the daughter as well, adding that he 
is quite aware that Demetrius has long been en- 
gaged to Helena, Hermia*s bosom friend, and that 
such fickleness as he is displaying is disgraceful. 

The king, who has already heard rumours to the 
same efiFect, bids Egeus and his candidate accompany 
him into a neighbouring apartment, where he wishes 
to have some private conversation with them, thus 
leaving Hermia and Lysander alone upon the scene. 
To comfort his beloved for her father's harshness, 
Lysander now gently reminds her that * the course 
of true love never did run smooth,* ^ enumerating 
the many different ways in which lovers have been 
parted. He adds that as there is no prospect of evad- 
ing the law, or of persuading her father to change his 
mind, Hermia had better run away from home, pro- 
ceeding straight to his aunt's house, where he prom- 

^ All the quotations are taken from the Eversley Edition* 

Midsummer Nighfs Dream 3 

ises to meet and marry her immediately. As, once 
safely outside of the city wall, they will be out of 
reach of the cruel law, he further suggests that 
Hermla await him in a neighbouring forest, at a spot 
familiar to both, whence he can escort her to the 
agreed place of refuge. 

Vowing by all that is sacred to meet her lover at 
this tr3^ting-spot, Hermia is about to take leave of 
him, when her friend Helena rushes into the room, 
bitterly reproaching her for having made use of su- 
perior attractions to rob her of a lover. Helena is 
sure such treachery must be at work, because Deme- 
trius has hitherto always shown her marked atten- 

In vain Hermia insists that she never sought to at- 
tract her friend's lover, Helena refuses to believe 
her, until the couple confide to her the plans they 
have just made, revealing exactly where they are go- 
ing to meet, — a spot which Helena knows well, hav- 
ing often spent pleasant hours there with her friend. 

When the lovers have gone, leaving her alone, 
Helena begins talking to herself, saying that she 
feels worthy of Demetrius' love, although not so 
fair as her friend. She is, besides, so anxious to see 
Demetrius again, to secure his approval, and earn his 
thanks, that she suddenly decides to reveal to him 
Hermia's and L3rsander's romantic plan! 

The second scene occurs in the shop of an 
Athenian joiner, who has summoned a number of his 
friends, so they can arrange for a fine play, which 
they intend to give in the presence of the bride and 
groom on their wedding night, in hopes of earning 

4-. Stories of Shakespeare^ s Comedies 

some reward. The roll being called, different 
parts are allotted for the drama of * The most 
cruel death of Pyramus and Thisby.' Bottom, the 
weaver, — ^the most talented actor in their midst, 
and very loquacious, — ^when given the part of 
Pyramus, instantly inquires whether he is to be lover 
or tyrant, boasting loudly he can play either part 
with marked success. Such is his conceit, that 
throughout this scene he keeps interrupting, offering 
to take every part in turn, for he is thoroughly con- 
vinced he alone can play it as it should be played. 

In spite of all his interruptions, the role of Thisby 
IS given to the bellows-mender, who is cautioned to 
speak in a very small voice, lest his sex be betrayed 
and the illusion dispelled. The lovers' parents are 
to be personated by sundry other artisans, and last 
of all the lion is assigned to a joiner, who zealously 
promises to roar so loudly that he will fill all hearts 
with terror. But, fearing lest, they may forfeit the 
desired reward in case they frighten the ladies, the 
actors one and all implore him to moderate his 
ardour, suggesting finally that he follow Bottom's 
advice and * roar like a nightingale ! ' 

A little more conversation ensues in regard to the 
style of wigs and beards the actors shall wear, ere 
they disperse, reminding one another that they are 
to meet in the forest the next night to rehearse their 
play, as they do not want any one in town to have 
an inkling of what they are going to represent. 

Act IL The second act opens in the woods near 
Athens, at the very spot where Hermia and Lysander 
are to meet, and where the artisans have planned to 

Midsummer Night's Dream 5 

hold their rehearsal. At first, this moonlit glade 
seems entirely deserted, then, suddenly, appear from 
opposite sides, Puck (will-o'-the-wisp, or hobgoblin), 
messenger of Oberon, King of the Elves, and one of 
the fairies of Queen Titania's train. On meeting, 
these two fellow-sprites exchange greetings, and the 
fairy gleefully reports she has been wandering to and 
fro, hanging dewdrops in every cowslip's ear. Puck, 
in return, expresses pleasure at having met her, as 
he wishes to caution her to keep her mistress away 
from this spot, where his master has decided to hold 
his revels. 

We next learn from their conversation that the 
fairy couple, once so tenderly united, are now on bad 
terms, Titania having refused to give her husband 
her Indian boy, — a refusal which has incensed 
Oberon. Whenever the King and Queen of the 
Fairies now meet, they quarrel so violently, that even 
the elves creep into acorn-cups and quake in fear. 

The fairy next informs Puck in a playful manner, 
that she has heard of his fine doings, how he mis- 
leads night-wanderers, frightens young girls, and 
bewitches churns, — so Puck, laughing heartily at her 
insinuations, relates in pure glee a few of the mis- 
chievous pranks he has recently performed for the 
amusement of his king. 

These two actors have barely finished talking, 
when Titania, Queen of the Fairies, enters from one 
side of the stage, followed by her suite, just as 
Oberon comes in from the other, escorted by his 
elves. Because they are still on bad terms, the 
fairy couple greet each other with cutting remarks^ 

6 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

Titania accusing her husband of paying attention 
to other ladies, and Oberon taunting his wife with 
ungraciousness. Next, they charge one another 
with having come here from love for the royal 
couple, and Titania tearfully declares that unless 
her husband reform, great harm will ensue, as dis- 
sensions among fairies are sure to have fatal results. 

Although Oberon replies he is ready to cease quar- 
relling as soon as Titania gives him the coveted boy, 
she goes off the stage, still denying his request, but 
vowing she will linger in this neighbourhood until 
the wedding festivities are over. 

When the Queen of the Fairies has withdrawn into 
the thicket, followed by her train, Oberon summons 
Puck, for he has suddenly conceived a brilliant plan, 
whereby he hopes to get the best of his perverse 
mate. He explains to his little messenger how 
he once saw Cupid aim an arrow at a Vestal, and 
how that arrow, deviating from its course, fell upon 
a little flower, which immediately changed hue, be- 
coming * Love in Idleness * (a purple pansy). Now 
he knows that any flower, touched by Love's arrow, 
is thereafter gifted with special powers, and that the 
juice of this blossom, dropped upon the eyelids of 
a sleeper, will cause him to fall in love with the 
first person upon whom his glance rests on awaken- 
ing. Oberon, therefore, bids Puck bring him this 
herb as soon as possible, and the sprite darts off, vow- 
ing he will soon be back, as he can * put a girdle 
round about the earth in forty minutes.' 

Puck being gone, Oberon reveals he is going to 
drop this magic juice into the eyes of his slumber** 

Midsummer Night's Dream 7 

ing wife, taking his revenge for her refusal by mak- 
ing her fall violently in love vi^ith the first creature 
she sees, knowing full well that Titania, having once 
made herself ridiculous, will be only too glad to do 
whatever he wishes for the sake of escaping his ridi- 

As King of the Fairies, Oberon has, of course, the 
power to become invisible at will, so he vanishes when 
he perceives a couple coming in his direction. A 
moment after he has disappeared, Demetrius runs 
upon the stage, closely followed by the breathless 
Helena, who implores him to listen to her instead of 
pursuing her friend with unwelcome attentions. 

Furious at not finding Hermia at the trysting- 
spot, and at not being able to vent his jealous rage 
by slaying Lysander, Demetrius impolitely bids his 
former sweetheart begone, declaring he no longer 
cares for her. Then, seeing Helena doesn't immedi- 
ately obey, he taunts her with unmaidenliness, and is 
indignant to perceive that his jeers have no effect. 
This couple soon pass out of sight, the woman plead- 
ing, the man chiding, and every once in a while 
angrily threatening to abandon her in the dark. 

Unseen, Oberon has witnessed this scene, and 
feels so sorry for Helena, that he vows before this 
couple again leaves his realm, the girl shall flee and 
the man sue for her love! He has barely finished 
saying this, when Puck reappears with the desired 
flower, of which Oberon gives part to his little mes- 
senger, instructing him to find a youth in Athenian 
garb, who is wandering in the forest in company 
With a lady. Puck is to press some of the juice 

8 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

upon the stranger's eyes, so he may undergo a change 
of heart, and return the ardent affections of the per- 
son he now scorns. The remainder of the magic 
herb Oberon intends to reserve for his own use in 
regard to his queen. 

The next scene represents the bower of Titania, 
who lies amid flowers, surrounded by tiny attend- 
ants, to whom she distributes orders which they arc 
to execute as soon as they have put her to sleep. 
This they do by singing in chorus a charming lullaby, 
wherein all noxious things are warned to keep away, 
and the nightingale summoned to charm their 
mistress's slumbers. So magical is the effect of this 
lullaby, that Titania soon sinks back sound asleep, 
and the fairies flit away, leaving only one of their 
number to mount guard over their beloved queen. 

It is while Titania is thus peacefully sleeping, that 
Oberon steals upon the scene, and slyly drops the 
magic juice upon her eyelids, whispering, * What 
thou seest when thou dost wake, do it for thy true- 
love take.' Of course, in speaking so, Oberon in- 
tends that the first object upon which his wife's 
glance rests shall be something utterly ridiculous. 

Within sight of the spot where Titania lies 
wrapped in slumber,' Lysander and Hermia arrive, 
almost exhausted by prolonged wanderings in the 
forest, where they have lost their way. Such is 
Hermia's fatigue, that Lysander tenderly implores 
her to lie down and rest, promising to remain close 
beside her. But, although Hermia consents to take 
the necessary repose, she suggests it will be proper 
for Lysander to withdraw to a short distance. 












































































Midsummer Night's Dream 9 

Thus, when the two lovers fall asleep in the forest, — 
after exchanging sweet good-nights and promises 
to remain faithful to each other, — they lie some 
distance apart. Both are sound asleep when Puck 
appears, still looking for the man in Athenian garb, 
upon whose eyelids he is to drop the magic juice. 
On discovering Lysander, a short distance from 
Hermia, the sprite sagely concludes this must be the 
disdainful lover, and stealing up to him, gently drops 
the juice upon his eyes. 

Puck has just gone to report success to Oberon, 
when Demetrius and Helena reappear, they, too, 
having lost their way in the forest and wandered 
about for hours. By this time, however, Demetrius 
is so exasperated by Helena's pursuit of him, that, 
notwithstanding her entreaties not to desert her in 
the darkness, he suddenly runs away. Too ex- 
hausted to follow him any longer, Helena glances 
timidly about her, and is equally surprised and de- 
lighted to behold Lysander sleeping near by. 

Afraid to remain alone, and quite unconscious of 
Hermia's presence, Helena wonders whether Lysan- 
der may not be wounded or dead, and creeping 
quietly up to him, awakens him. Owing to the 
action of the magic herb, Lysander no sooner beholds 
Helena than he begins making violent love to her, 
swearing he has never cared for Hermia, whom 
Demetrius can now marry. This sounds so utterly 
unlike all she has hitherto known of him, that Helena 
cannot but think Lysander is making fun of her. 
She is, besides, indignant that the man she loves 
should thus be coolly awarded to her friend, and 

lo Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

when Lysander persists in complimenting her, runs 
away, leaving him to follow her, for he now scorns 
the sleeping Hermia. 

When both have vanished out of sight, an evil 
dream causes poor Hermia to start wildly from her 
slumbers and gaze about her in terror. No longer 
finding her lover near her rustic couch, she rises up 
in affright to try and find him. 

Act III. The third act opens in the woods where 
Titania is sleeping, so concealed by creepers and 
overhanging bushes, that her presence is unsuspected 
by the artisans who haye come here to rehearse their 
play. Bottom, therefore, begins by remarking that 
if he is to play Pyramus and kill himself, the ladies 
in the audience will be sorely frightened; so he de- 
cides to state in the prologue that he is not Pyra- 
mus at all, but merely Bottom, the weaver, and 
that his death, being mere pretence, need inspire no 

The man who is to play the lion, also fearing lest 
the ladies may dread such a wild animal even more 
than a mouse, decides to k^ep one-half of his human 
face constantly in view, and to reassure the audience 
by plainly stating he is the joiner and no lion ! 

These points being satisfactorily settled, two great 
difficulties still confront them, for they require moon- 
shine to illumine one scene, and a wall to separate 
the lovers. By a brilliant flash of inspiration, how- 
ever, one of the party suggests that an actor, pro- 
vided with lantern and thorn-bush, personate Moon, 
while another, liberally smeared with lime and 
plaster, play the part of Wall, holding his fingers 

Midsummer Night's Dream ii 

wide apart so the lovers can talk between them as 
through the desired cracL 

These points have just been decided, and the 
actors have barely withdrawn into the thicket, — 
from whence they intend to emerge in turn accord- 
ing to their cue, — ^when Puck, who is mounting 
guard over Titania, slyly remarks he is evidently go- 
ing to witness a comical scene, and that, although 
no part has been officially awarded to him, he may 
yet figure in the play. 

While he is watching for a good opportunity. 
Bottom steps forth, and liberally prompted by one 
of his companions, gives utterance to a melodramatic 
opening speech. *Thisby,' his beloved, who is not 
well up in her part, makes stammering responses, and 
corrections are so frequent, that the whole speech is 
a ridiculous jumble. When it is over, Bottom with- 
draws into the thicket to await his next cue, and in 
the interval nods. Noticing this. Puck steals up be- 
hind the sleeper, and slyly draws over his head a 
quaint mask, which makes him appear like a man 
with the head of an ass! Still, Bottom's slumbers 
are so brief, that when the moment comes for him 
to reappear, he bursts out of the thicket. 

At his strange appearance his comrades flee in 
terror, leaving him alone on the scene. But, while 
Bottom stands there amazed, Puck exclaims in an 
aside that he is going to lead the terrified actors a 
pretty dance through the forest. As he vanishes, 
Bottom tries to show indifference for his companions' 
unaccountable defection by singing a merry song in 
a blatant voice which soon awakens Titania. She 

12 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

no sooner beholds him, than, owing to the magic 
drug, she deems him an angel, and falls desperately 
in love with him ! 

Such is Titania's infatuation that, although Bot- 
tom's voice rivals that of the animal he personates, 
she implores him to sing again, as he has won her 
affections. Little moved by such declarations, Bot- 
tom is nevertheless pleased when she overwhelms 
him with compliments, offering four fairies to wait 
upon him and supply him with berries and honey, 
fanning him with butterfly wings to keep him cool. 
When, at the queen's call, four fairies appear and 
bow down before their new master. Bottom, de- 
ligjited at the thought of being waited upon, in- 
quires their names, making quaint comments upon 
* Cobweb ' and the rest. 

Meantime, Titania gazes with rapture upon her 
new love, whom she bids the fairies lead off to a 
flowery bank, where they can wait upon him, and 
where she can deck his nice long ears with garlands 
of flowers and enjoy his company in peace. 

The second scene is played in a different part 
of the forest, where Oberon stands, idly wondering 
whether his wife has awakened, and upon what ob- 
ject her eyes have first rested? It is just while he 
is expressing impatience for news, that Puck ap- 
pears, to report with glee how madly his mistress has 
fallen in love with a rude mechanic, who has come 
into the forest with his companions to rehearse a 
play, and upon whose stupid shoulders Puck has slyly 
set the head of an ass. The little sprite next so 
humorously describes the flight of the actors at the 

Midsummer Night's Dream 13 

sight of this monster, that Oberon is delighted with 
the success of the trick they have played. 

However, intense amusement doesn't make 
Oberon forget that he charged Puck with a second 
errand, for he now inquires whether the magic juice 
has been squeezed upon the eyelids of the Athenian 
youth? Puck satisfies him by relating just how he 
found the stranger, sleeping a short distance from his 
lady-love, and declares that on awakening the swain 
will surely fall in love with his fair companion. 

The king and Puck are still whispering together 
when Hermia and Demetrius come upon the scene, 
whereat Oberon exclaims in surprise that here is the 
very Athenian he meant, but that, strange to relate, 
the woman he pursues is not the one with him be- 
fore. Puck, however, declares that, although this 
woman is the same he saw in the forest, the man is 
an utter stranger to him ! 

Hoping to solve the mystery, the two plotters 
now listen to the conversation between Hermia and 
Demetrius, and are duly surprised when the lady 
chides her unwelcome lover for following her, and 
expresses suspicions that he may have done away 
with Lysander. So sure does Hermia feel that her 
beloved would never have forsaken her were he still 
alive, that her apprehensions are quieted only when 
Demetrius swears that he is not guilty of her lover's 
death. Then Hermia goes off in quest of Lysander, 
begging Demetrius not to follow her, and, although 
he ardently longs to do so, he desists, deeming 
further pursuit vain. 

While Demetrius sinks down upon a green bank, 

14 Stories of Shakespeare^ s Cowudies 

where be iaSis asleep, Oberoo rcpioadics Pud^ for 
having pressed the love-juke upoo die eyes of the 
wrong man, and for having thus separated true 
lovers instead of uniting those who were estranged. 
He next bids the ^rite make good his mistake by 
finding Helena, so Puck darts off, ' swifter than ar- 
row from the Tartar's bow,' while Oberon entertains 
himself by singing a gay little song about the magic 
herb with which he has just been playing such queer 
tricks, and which he now uses on Demetrius. 

Just as Oberon finishes singing, Puck returns to 
announce that Helena is near at hand, closely fol- 
lowed by Lysander, the very man upon whose eyes 
he had dropped the magic juice, and who evidently 
has beheld her first instead of his own true love. 
Watching them from a distance. Puck wisely re- 
marks, ' Lord, what fools these mortals be,' ere 
Oberon bids him be silent, for he knows the coming 
of this couple will rouse Demetrius. 

Fairy King and attendant are invisible when 
Lysander and Helena enter, the man vainly vowing 
that he doesn't woo her in scorn as she fancies, but 
that his affections are deep and true. Helena, 
knowing how dearly he loved her friend a short time 
ago, rails at him for denying his affection for Her- 
mia, and angrily refuses to listen when he urges 
that Demetrius loves and will soon marry that lady. 

Their voices, thus raised in contention, awaken 
Demetrius, who, also under the herb spell, no sooner 
beholds Helena than he falls madly in love with 
her. His declaration to that effect seems pure mock- 
cry to his beloved, who cries out indignantly against 

Midsummer Night's Dream 15 

the youths for thus making sport of her for pleasure ! 
But, utterly blinded by the love- juice, Lysander bids 
Demetrius go in quest of Hermia, leaving Helena 
free to marry him, an arrangement which seems 
nothing short of treachery to Helena. 

Meantime Hermia, still seeking Lysander, sud- 
denly comes upon the trio, and besides being dis- 
owned by her lover, is accused by Helena of making 
fun of her, although they were once so intimate that 
they exchanged confidences in this very spot. Not 
only do Helena and Hermia misunderstand each 
other sorely, but the two men, both anxious to 
secure Helena, manage to offend both ladies, ere 
they turn upon each other in wrath, and propose to 

At this juncture, Oberon secretly directs Puck to 
conceal the duellists from one another by a fog, 
mimicking their voices so as to separate them, and 
leading them a merry dance through the forest. 
Mischief such as this is so congenial to Puck's na- 
ture, that he promptly disappears, and, in the midst 
of suddenly rising fog and darkness, lures the rivals 
from place to place, so eager are they to meet each 
other and fight the duel for which they pine. Be- 
sides, Oberon has directed that this delusion be kept 
up until both fall down exhausted, when a magic 
herb being again pressed on Lysander*s eyes, he will 
return to his allegiance to Hermia. 

Favoured by fog and darkness, and led by Puck, 
the quarrelling lovers fail to meet, but are, instead, 
finally led back separately to the spot from whence 
they started. But both are so utterly exhausted by 

1 6 Stories of Shakespeare^ s Comedies 

their efforts to overtake one another and revenge 
the insults Puck has been caHing out in their re- 
spective voices, that they sink down and fall asleep. 

The two girls, who have also lost their way in the 
forest, and have been lured hither by fairy means, 
next appear and drop down on the grass overcome by 
fatigue. Quite unconscious of each other's pres- 
ence, the four lovers thus lie in different parts of 
the stage, sound asleep, when Puck, stealing for- 
ward, slyly squeezes magic juice on Lysander's eyes, 
arranging this time that he atone for Hermia's 
distress by again lavishing all his love upon her. 

Act IV. The fourth act opens in Titania's 
flowery bower, while she is trying to induce Bot- 
tom to lie down on a mossy bed, kissing his long 
hairy ears, and decking him out in garlands of 
flowers. Bottom, who has taken very kindly to 
petting, and to the ministrations of the fairies, soon 
drops off asleep, and while he and the queen are 
dozing. Puck and Oberon come upon the scene. 
The latter relates how, her conscience troubling her, 
the Fairy Queen offered to make friends with him 
and relinquished the Indian boy in regard to whose 
possession the quarrel arose. Delighted at having 
obtained what he wants, Oberon now wishes to undo 
his mischievous spell, and secretly bids Puck re- 
move the disguising head from Bottom's shoulders, 
arranging that on wakening he shall fancy he has 
been the victim of a queer dream. 

Then Oberon gently touches his sleeping wife's 
eyelids, whispering softly, * Be thou as thou wast 
wont to be; see as thou wast wont to see,' a spell 


Midsummer Night's Dream 17 

which proves so effective that when Titania rouses 
a few moments later, she exclaims she has been the 
victim of a strange dream, wherein she actually 
fanded she had fallen in love with an ass! When 
Oberon gravely points out to her the queer shape 
lying beside her, Titania is utterly at a loss to 
imagine how any one could feel affection for so gro- 
tesque a creature. 

The reconciliation between the King and Queen 
of the Fairies being now complete, they celebrate it 
by treading a mystic dance, while magic music is 
played. Next they prepare to go off together to 
the king's house to bless his marriage, as well as the 
nuptials of the four lovers, which are to take place 
at the same time. But, it is only when Puck calls 
out a reminder that the lark is just beginning to 
sing, and that fairies, being creatures of the night, 
should vanish, that the King and Queen of the 
Fairies cease dancing and disappear. 

They have no sooner gone, attended by Puck, 
than a gay blast of horns awakens the forest echoes, 
and a hunting party appears. It is led by Theseus 
with his betrothed, and Egeus is one of the lords 
in their train. To his amazement he suddenly per- 
ceives his daughter Hermia, sleeping out in the 
forest, and soon after discovers, a short distance 
away from her, Lysander, the lover whom she has 
chosen, Helena, her bosom friend, and Demetrius, 
the man whom he is so anxious to call son-in-law! 
While Egeus expresses surprise at beholding the 
four young people in this place, Theseus suggests 
that having risen early to fulfil May rites, they 

1 8 Stories of Shakespeare^ s Comedies 

have evidently been overtaken by fatigue. He in- 
quires also whether this is not the day upon which 
Hermia is to make known her choice, and orders the 
sleepers awakened by a blast of the horns. 

At the merry notes of the huntsmen, the sleep- 
ers awaken, startled and frightened, only to be 
greeted by a request from Theseus to be told how 
it happens that rival lovers should be lying in the 
forest close together, in such peace and amity? 
Confused by sleep, but no longer under an adverse 
spell, Lysander can give no other explanation save 
that he came hither with Hermia to escape the 
Athenian law. This statement enrages Egeus, who 
urges Demetrius to claim his bride; but, this suitor 
no longer wishes to do so, Oberon's magic having 
made him return to his former allegiance to Helena, 
and hence cease to covet the hand of her friend. 

As no man can be forced to marry a maiden if he 
doesn't wish to do so, Theseus suggests that Egeus 
allow his daughter to be united to Lysander at thcf 
same time as Demetrius is wedded to Helena. He 
adds that these two marriages can take place at the 
same time as his own, and goes away with his be- 
trothed and train, bidding the lovers follow them 
later to the temple. 

After vainly trying to reach a dear understanding 
of what has befallen them in the course of this 
mysterious night, the four lovers conclude they must 
have been victims of some queer dreams, and hasten 
off to the temple, where their wedding is to be 
celebrated and their happiness made secure. 

They have barely gone out of sight when the 

Midsummer Night's Dream 19 

sleeping Bottom awakens, — ^no longer wearing an 
ass's head, but still labouring under a vague delu- 
sion that he ought to answer a cue. Little does he 
suspect how long his slumbers have lasted, and 
fancies the experiences of the night are merely the 
efiEects of some strange dream, which he proposes to 
put into poetry, and to recite at the end of his play. 
Then, after a vain search for his companions. Bot- 
tom decides to return home to find out what has 
become of them. 

The next scene is played at Athens, in the joiner's 
house, where the various actors bewail the absence 
of Bottom, their star, without whom their play can- 
not take place. Suddenly one of the number sees 
him coming out of the temple, closely followed 
by three bridal couples. As their companion will 
now be in time for the play, the actors begin to re- 
joice over the largess they expect, and crowding 
around Bottom as soon as he appears, inquire where 
he has been and what he has done ? These are ques- 
tions which Bottom prefers not to answer, so he di- 
rects them to make all necessary preparations, for 
their play is to be given in the palace that very 
evening, notwithstanding the mysterious things 
which have happened to him, concerning which he 
drops sundry hints. 

Act V. The fifth act opens in the palace of 
Theseus at Athens, when he and his new wife enter 
the apartment, commenting upon the weird tales told 
by the four lovers, who have also just been united at 
the altar, and who are going to view the gay 
revels. Theseus, however, declares that, although 

20 Stories of Shakespeare^ 5 Comedies 

their adventures in the forest on Midsummer 
Night's Eve sound somewhat extraordinary, there 
are many spirits abroad at that time, which delight 
in tricking mankind. 

The royal bridal couple are next joined by the 
two other pairs, and all agree to view the sports 
promised, Theseus selecting from among the sug- 
gested diversions, 'Pyramus and Thisby,' which is 
to be given by artisans. This decision reached, the 
actors are summoned, and the play opens with a 
prologue, wherein due apologies are made for de- 
ficiencies, and an explanation given in regard to the 
expedients to which the actors have had to resort 
to represent both Moon and Wall. 

This introduction finished, the actual play begins. 
Pyramus and Thisbe ^ talking gravely arfd grandilo- 
quently through the crack in the wall, and agree- 
ing to meet near a neighbouring tomb that very 
evening. The second scene represents this trysting- 
place, lighted by the Moon's lantern, where Thisbe, 
waiting for her lover, is suddenly driven away 
by the approach of the lion. A few moments after 
the departure of this beast, — ^which has considerately 
refrained from frightening the spectators by show- 
ing a generous half of a human face, — Pyramus 
comes upon the scene, and perceiving Thisbe's veil, 
which has been mangled by the beast of prey, rashly 
concludes his beloved is no more. In his frantic 
grief, Pyramus stabs himself. He is just breathing 
his last when Thisbe reappears upon the scene, and 
after duly lamenting his death, draws the dagger 

* See Guerber's * Myths of Greece and Rome/ 

Midsummer Night's Dream 21 

from her lover's breast and plunges it in her own. 
Frightened by all it sees and hears, the poor Moon 
now vanishes, exclaiming dramatically, *Moon, 
take thy flight ! ' 

This play, — ^which fs interrupted time and again 
by ludicrous comments from the spectators, — ^having 
come to an end, Theseus proposes a dance to con- 
clude the evening's entertainment, and the com- 
pany have barely left for the ballroom, when Puck 
darts upon the scene, declaring the moment has 
come for his midnight spells, as he has been sent 
here to prepare for the coming of the fairies. 

When he has swept behind the door, Oberon and 
Titania enter, escorted by their fairy train. After 
singing, dancing, and blessing the bridal chambers so 
as to secure health, happiness, and long life for the 
three couples who have been united that day, the 
fairies disappear, while Puck recites , the epilogue, 
slyly hinting that, should the spectators wonder at 
all that has occurred, they may find the solution of 
the problem by remembering that mortals often have 
mad fancies on Midsummer Night's Eve. 


Act I. When the curtain rises we behold a ves- 
sel drifting helplessly in a hurricane, in spite of 
the eflEorts of a half-drunken crew. The passen- 
gers, suddenly appearing on the deck, are roughly 
bidden keep out of the way, as their presence 
and inquiries only add to the confusion. These 
passengers, on their way home from Tunis where 
they went to witness the marriage of the King of 
Naples' only daughter, are the King of Naples him- 
self, with his son and brother, accompanied by the 
usurping Duke of Milan, and a wise old coun- 
cillor, who indignantly vows these sailors are too 
impudent to die natural deaths, and will yet live to 
be hanged ! 

The excitement on board reaches its highest pitch 
when the noise of splintering timbers suddenly rises 
above the storm, and all become intent upon their 
own salvation, even the old councillor, — the calmest 
present,— expressing a fervent desire to be safe on 
dry land. 

The second scene is played on the island toward 
which this ship is drifting, the rising curtain re- 
vealing the magician Frospero, whose dark arts have 
called up this frightful storm. Suspecting this, his 
beautiful daughter, Miranda, rushes forward, im- 
ploring him to abate the tempest, using his super- 


The Tempest 23 

natural powers only to save those she has seen in 
imminent peril. Her generous emotion touches the 
magician, who reassures her by stating that bad as 
things appear, neither ship nor any member of its 
crew shall perish. Having thus quieted her worst 
apprehensions, Prospero inquires whether she has 
any recollection of the manner in which they two 
once reached this island? In reply, Miranda says 
she remembers nothing, save that women were about 
her in early childhood, although since then no such 
human beings have met her eye. 

To her innocent surprise she now learns for the 
first time, that her father, the rightful Duke of 
Milan, being far too absorbed in the study of magic 
to realize all that was going on about him, was 
supplanted by his own brother, Antonio, helped by 
his ally the King of Naples. To dispose of the 
rightful duke and of his infant daughter, without 
actually staining their hands in their blood, these 
cruel men cast them adrift in a leaky vessel, ex- 
pecting, of course, that they would soon perish. It 
happened, however, that, learning these intentions, 
an old councillor secretly placed on board all 
passengers could need, including rich garments and 
a few of Prosperous best beloved books of magic. 

Thus, instead of perishing, father and daughter 
drifted to this island, — a little paradise, — ^where 
they have now dwelt more than twelve years; time 
employed by Prospero in perfecting himself in magic, 
until he can now do almost anything he pleases. 
He has also carefully educated his daughter JMi- 
randa, until she is an ornament to her sexa ^thpygh 

24 Stories of Shakespeare^ s Comedies 

he has hitherto kept her ignorant of her origin, 
and of his dealings with sundry spirits, whom she 
has never yet seen. 

Requiring the aid of one of these assistants, Pros- 
pero sends Miranda to sleep by a few passes, ere 
he summons Ariel, a dainty spirit of the air, who at 
his command has stirred up this frightful storm. 
The tempest has been devised to bring to the island 
both the false brother and his ally, magic having 
revealed the fact that they are now at sea. Called 
upon to report what he has done, Ariel vividly de- 
scribes the wild hurricane, and the apparent wreck 
of the vessel, which in reality, is riding safely at 
anchor in a bay, its crew being wrapped in deep 
' slumber. He also states that all the noble passengers 
have reached land in safety. Prince Ferdinand hav- 
ing been separated from the rest under such perilous 
circumstances, that his companions deem him lost. 

Highly pleased with Ariel's report, Prospero 
warmly praises him, sternly refusing, however, to 
grant him the freedom from bondage he craves, un- 
til other orders have been executed. When Ariel 
ventures to grumble against this decree, Prospero 
reminds him how he and his fellow-creatures, — all 
the good spirits on the island, — ^were once under a 
far more cruel rule; for, having refused to obey the 
witch who took possession of their realm, one and 
all had been subject to frightful tortures, Ariel, for 
instance, being thrust into a cloven pine, where he 
had remained a groaning, suffering prisoner, until 
freed by Prosperous magic arts. 

As all this IS perfectly true, Ariel humbly prom- 

The Tempest 25 

ises to earn his freedom by implicit obedience, de- 
parting promptly when Prospero bids him assume the 
guise of a sea-nymph, invisible to all save his mas- 
ter. It is while Ariel is executing this command 
that Miranda rouses from her magic sleep, and is in- 
vited by Prospero to enter the cave they inhabit, to 
ascertain whether Caliban, their slave, has fulfilled 
his tasks. The mere mention of Caliban, — a hideous 
monster, son of the wicked witch, — causes Miranda 
to shudder, and she shrinks back in terror when h^ 
appears at his master's call, cursing and complain- 
ing, for he is so stupid and cross-grained that such 
is the only use he cares to make of the gift of speech 
cultivated by Prospero. Left to his own devices this 
monster thinks and does nothing but evil, so the 
magician, taking advantage of his stupidity, keeps 
him in subjection by allowing invisible spirits to 
pinch and tease him whenever he attempts to rebel. 

Caliban's standing grievance is that Prospero has 
robbed him of the island, where he once ruled at 
will, so he reviles his master until gravely reminded 
how kindly he was treated at first, and how pa- 
tiently taught. It was, in fact, only when his vile 
instincts prompted him to injure Miranda, that 
Prospero reduced him to a state of slavery, and 
condemned him to carry heavy loads of firewood to 
the cave. 

The monster has scarcely gone in quest of more 
fuel, in obedience to Prosperous command, when 
Ariel appears in the guise of a nymph, ready to ex- 
ecute his master's orders. He is then directed to 
guide the shipwrecked Prince Ferdinand to the 

26 Stories of Shakespeare^ s Comedies 

magician's cave, and darting away, soon discovers 
this youth on the shore, bitterl;' mourning the loss 
of father and friends, for he is convinced he alone 
has escaped a watery grave. 

Ferdinand is roused from an abstraction of grief 
by weird music, the invisible Ariel singing above his 
head a dainty song, which is to serve as lure to 
guide him to Prosperous cave. But, when the tricksy 
sprite begins to chant that the royal corpse lies be- 
neath the waves, where his eyes have turned to 
pearls, and everything about him has suffered * a 
sea-change into something rich and strange,' the 
prince takes it as a sad confirmation of his fear 
that his father has ceased to exist. 

Following the mysterious, invisible singer, Fer- 
dinand gradually draws near the spot where Pros- 
pero and Miranda are standing. While the father 
expects him, and is already familiar with the aspect 
of mankind, the daughter seems lost in wonder at the 
sight of so strange a being, never having seen any one 
since she was three years old, save her old father, 
or the hideous Caliban. 

When Miranda expresses innocent admiration at 
the sight of the youthful newcomer, her father kindly 
assures her this is no spirit, as she supposes, but 
merely a shipwrecked prince, vainly seeking his com- 
panions, and mourning a father's loss. Tender- 
hearted Miranda is so touched by Ferdinand's sor- 
row, that Prospero perceives with joy she will readily 
fall in love with the prince, whom he has brought 
here for that very purpose. 

Still led by the aerial music, Ferdinand finally 

The Tempest 27 

reaches the spot where father and daughter await 
him, and is so charmed by the young lady's beauty, 
and so touched by her compassionate glances, that 
he at first mistakes her for some goddess. On learn- 
ing, however, that she, too, is a mere mortal, Fer- 
dinand eagerly inquires whether she is still free to 
dispose of her hand, and is overjoyed when Miranda 
innocently replies that she is still a maid. Equally 
surprised and delighted to discover that so beau- 
tiful a vision speaks his own language, — the ship 
having drifted so long and so far he fancied he 
must have landed on some foreign shore, — the prince 
indulges in lover-like raptures. 

In reply to Prosperous questions, he then cour- 
teously explains who he is, and how he and his 
companions, — ^whom he duly names, — happened to 
be at sea when overtaken by the storm. Evei^ word 
he utters helps to convince the magician that his 
spells have worked just as he planned, and he is so 
delighted to think how cleverly Ariel carried out 
his orders, that he softly vows the sprite shall soon 
be free. 

Meantime, the prince and Miranda, both young 
and innocent, have been exchanging admiring 
glances, every one of which has so increased Ferdi- 
nand's love for this beautiful island maiden, that 
he impetuously proposes to make her Queen of 

Realizing that the young people will prize each 
other's affections nwre if difficulties are placed in 
their way, Prospero now rudely interrupts their con- 
versation, declaring he knows Ferdinand has come 

28 Stories of Shakespeare^ s Comedies 

to the island as a spy, and threatening in punishment 
to chain him fast and give him nothing but sea- 
water to drink! The prince, who is no coward, 
boldly tries to defend himself by drawing his sword, 
but the magician, by one word, disarms and makes 
him helpless. 

The wrath Prospero now simulates seems so 
alarming, that Miranda, clinging passionately to 
him, pleads so eloquently in behalf of the stranger, 
that her father finally pretends to relent. He, 
therefore, announces that the prince's punishment 
shall be commuted to slavery, a decree which no 
longer seems harsh to Ferdinand, since it will en- 
able him to see Miranda. This scene closes while 
Miranda is sweetly comforting and encouraging 
poor Ferdinand, and while Prospero is whispering 
new orders to Ariel, encouraging him to do his best 
with the assurance that he shall soon be 'free as 
mountain winds.' 

Act II. The second act opens upon a remote 
part of the beach, where we behold the disconsolate 
group of passengers. The good old councillor, 
Gonzalo, — ^who supplied Prospero and Miranda 
with all things necessary for their journey, — is con- 
gratulating himself and his companions upon their 
narrow escape, his remarks being received rather 
ungraciously by some of the party; the poor King 
of Naples, for instance, finding it hard for a father 
to feel grateful for being saved, when his only 
son and heir has perished! 

While the king plunges back into mournful re- 
flections, his companions comment upon the island, 



The Tempest 29 

whose beauty delights them, wondering on what 
shores the storm can have driven them? They are, 
besides, greatly amazed to find not only themselves, 
but even their garments, none the worse for all 
they have been through. It is only when some 
time has elapsed that they again try to rouse the 
king from his state of grief and despondency, by 
suggesting that the prince, too, may have landed 
safely, and that hence he must not despair. 

The balmy air of the island, — ^where the council- 
lor proposes to found an Utopia, — added to the mys- 
terious music of Ariel, which now falls upon their 
ears, has such a peculiar drowsy ejSect, that all 
save two soon fall sound asleep. These wakeful men 
are the usurping Duke of Milan, Antonio, and his 
match in baseness, Sebastian, brother of the King of 
Naples. While the others sleep, these two timor- 
ously wonder whether the trials they have just un- 
dergone may not have been sent in punishment for 
their cruel treatment of Prospero and of his 
daughter. They are, however, so eager for new 
crimes, that they plan to murder the king, for the 
prince htmg safely out of the way, only one life 
now lies between them and the throne of Naples, 
which they covet. 

They are just creeping toward the sleeping mon- 
arch to execute their wicked plan, when Ariel mys- 
teriously rouses the councillor, who, at sight of their 
pale faces and fierce glances, shrewdly suspects their 
villainous intentions. He manages, however, to con- 
ceal his suspicions, and listens to the conspirators' 
description of strange sounds that startled them. 

30 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

and made him give the alarm to his companions, who 
arc now all wide awake. 

Sleep being banished for the present, the ship- 
wrecked noblemen compassionately volunteer to aid 
the king in searching for traces of his son, and Ariel, 
satisfied that no further mischief is brewing for the 
present, flits off to report progress to Prospcro. 

In the next scene, we behold Caliban, staggering 
along under a heavy load of firewood, muttering 
curses against Prospero and his petty persecutions. 
While thus giving vent to his anger and refcellion, 
Caliban suddenly catches sight of the Court Jester 
(Trinculo), whose cap, bells, and motley attire fill 
him with such unreasoning terror, that he falls 
down flat on the ground, hoping his cloak will ef- 
fectually conceal him. 

The Jester, — ^who has not perceived Caliban, — 
now comes quickly forward, expressing intense fear 
lest another storm be imminent, for the noise of 
thunder is again heard in the air. Glancing wildly 
about him for shelter from the tempest, the Jester 
suddenly perceives Caliban's cloak, and thinking it 
covers some islander slain by a thunderbolt, creeps 
quickly under it, evidently congratulating himself 
upon the fact that lightning seldom strikes twice in 
the same spot, and muttering that * misery acquaints 
a man with strange bed-fellows!' 

True to his nature, the Jester no sooner discovers 
that the man beneath whose cloak he has just taken 
refuge is still alive, than he begins playing mis- 
chievous pranks, poking, punching, and pinching 
him in fun. Believing himself once more a prey to 

The Tempest 31 

his wonted tormentors, Caliban squirms and groans, 
until he thus attracts the attention of the ship's but- 
ler, who now comes upon the scene. Having drifted 
ashore on a cask of liquor, this man has been com- 
forting himself ever since landing with so many 
potations that they have attuned his heart to mirth. 
His rollicking song, — with frequent pauses to draw 
comfort from the bottle he carries, — is now inter- 
rupted by Caliban's wild entreaty to be spared. 

The Butler, who has no evil intentions, is so sur- 
prised, that he raises the cloak sufficiently to dis- 
cover Caliban's face. To reassure the strange, 
trembling creature before him, the Butler gives him 
a generous drink, which agreeably tickles the mon- 
ster's palate. It is while Caliban is drinking deeply 
that his benefactor, who has discovered a second pair 
of feet sticking out from beneath the cloak, is over- 
joyed to find that they belong to his friend and fel- 
low-suflEerer, the Jester. They two compare notes in 
regard to their marvellous escape, until interrupted 
by Caliban, whose small wits are so sorely affected 
by the liquor he has drunk, that he implicitly be- 
lieves the Butler when he audaciously states he is 
the man in the moon. 

Convinced that all the rest of his companions have 
perished in the storm, the Butler announces in lordly 
fashion that he intends to be king of this island; 
whereupon Caliban, fawningly eager to serve the man 
who can supply him with such draughts as he has 
just quaffed, volunteers to wait upon him instead of 
Prospero, who, he drunkenly chants, can * get a new 

32 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

Act III. The third act reveals Ferdinand car- 
rying heavy logs and painfully piling them up, Pros- 
pero having condemned him to handle a thousand 
before sunset. While labouring manfully at this hard 
and unaccustomed task, Ferdinand declares that the 
thought of Miranda sweetens all his trials, and that 
her gentleness and compassion ojSer a strange and 
pleasing contrast to her father's undue severity. It 
is while he is thus commenting upon his strange situ- 
ation, that Miranda steals toward him, thinking her 
father is still intent upon his books and little suspect- 
ing that he is following her, and sees and hears all 
that transpires. Her tender heart is so wrung at 
the sight of her lover's evident exhaustion, that she 
implores him to sit down and rest, even offering to 
carry logs in his stead, a proposal which the prince, 
of course, gallantly refuses to accept. Instead, he 
manfully tries to comfort her, assuring her that no 
trial will prove unbearable as long as she stands by 
to pity and encourage him. 

The eavesdropping Prosper© is highly delighted 
with all this, as he wishes these young people to fall 
in love with each other; he therefore smiles in- 
dulgently when his daughter disobeys him, by reveal- 
ing to the prince her name. No sooner does Ferdi- 
nand hear it, than, punning upon its meaning, he as- 
sures her she is indeed the most admirable of women, 
adding that he has never beheld any member of her 
sex who could compare with her in beauty or 

Having no recollection of any female face save 
her own, Miranda is greatly elated by this compli- 

The Tempest 33 

mcnt, and repays Ferdinand's courtesy by assuring 
him that, although she has never seen any gentleman 
save her father, she feels certain she will always 
prefer him to every one else. In return for this 
artless declaration, Ferdinand informs his lady-love 
that he is a prince, and probably a king, but that, 
notwithstanding his exalted rank, he would gladly 
remain a mere slave for her sweet sake. 

It is while Prospero looks on, well pleased, that 
this young couple pledge faith, promising to live 
and die single, unless they can marry one another. 
Then they pass slowly ojff the stage, after a tender 
farewell, while Prospero benevolently watches them 
out of sight, before again having recourse to his 
magic books, 23 there still remains much work for 
him to do. 

A new change of scene again transfers us to the 
part of the island where the Butler, the Jester, and. 
Caliban sit around a winecask, pledging each other 
again and again. Owing to deep drinking, Caliban 
has become so maudlin that he offers to lick the But- 
ler's shoes, and positively grovels at his feet. 

While these three are revelling and boasting, Ariel 
joins them unseen, just in time to overhear Caliban 
confess he is subject to a magician, who has basely 
robbed him of this island. When Ariel exclaims 
aloud, * Thou liest ! ' a quarrel arises among the 
drinkers, both Caliban and the Butler hotly accusing 
the Jester of uttering these offensive words, although 
he angrily denies doing anything of the sort. 

This quarrel over, Caliban proposes that the But- 
ler dispose of Prospero by driving a nail through 


34 Stories of Shakespeare^ s Comedies 

his head, and then assume the sovereignty of the 
island, only to be again interrupted by scornful re- 
marks from the invisible Ariel. As these are once 
more attributed to the Jester, he is beaten by his 
rough companions, ere they resume the discussion of 
their evil plans. 

They finally settle that Caliban shall lead his com- 
panions to the cave, — ^where the sorcerer always in- 
dulges in an afternoon nap, — and that, after murder- 
ing Prospero and disposing safely of his magic books, 
the Butler shall marry Miranda and share with her 
the sovereignty of the island, of which the Jester 
and Caliban are to be viceroys. 

Ariel, having overheard these plans, watches the 
conspirators set out to put them into execution, and 
then flits rapidly on ahead to warn Prospero of their 
coming, playing a gay little tune, which mystifies 
, both Butler and Jester, but which Caliban recog- 
nises as music he has often heard before. 

In the meantime, the noblemen have been wander- 
ing sadly around the island, vainly seeking traces of 
Ferdinand. They have just abandoned the quest in 
despair, and Sebastian and Antonio are secretly re- 
newing their vile plots to murder the mourning King 
of Naples. They are about to attack him, when 
Prospero, — ^who knows all, and who has purposely 
lured them to this spot,— -creates a diversion by hav- 
ing a magnificent banquet served by airy spirits. 
It disappears again, however, before they can touch 
it, when Ariel, in the guise of a Harpy, flaps his 
wings above the table. But, before again vanishing 
into ' thin air,' Ariel solemnly denounces the King 


The Tempest 35 

of Naples, his brother, and the false Duke of Milan, 
as men of sin, declaring it is in punishment for their 
crime toward Prospero and Miranda that they have 
recently suiffered shipwrecL 

The Kling of Naples, who long ago repented his 
share in this crime, now sadly acknowledges he has 
indeed met just retribution in the loss of his son, 
while the two other sinners, utterly unrepentant and 
bent upon new crimes, set out in a rage to pursue 
the Harpy, whose clever acting again wins Pros- 
perous praise. While the noblemen wonder whether 
they have not been victims of some new delusion, 
and the councillor comments on the different ways in 
which the king, his kinsman, and ally, have re- 
ceived this reproof, Prospero hastens back to the 
cave, where the prince and his daughter await him. 

Act IV. The fourth act opens before the cave, 
just as the magician is courteously apologising to 
Ferdinand for imposing such hard tasks upon him, 
explaining that he has done so merely to test the 
strength of his affection for Miranda. Then Pros- 
pero promises to bestow his daughter's hand upon 
the young prince, warning him, however, that ere 
he can claim her for his bride, he must show how 
gentle, loving, patient, and unselfish he can be. In 
return, Ferdinand warmly assures him that, his love 
being true and honourable, no test will seem hard 
to win Miranda in the end, so Prospero goes away, 
leaving the lovers all alone together for the first 

The magician has gone to summon Ariel, whom 
he now directs to guide the shipwrecked mariners to 

36 Stories of Shakespeare^ s Comedies 

this spot, while he amuses the lovers with a pageant, 
in which Iris, the rainbow, Ceres, the goddess of 
plenty, and Juno, goddess of the atmosphere, appear 
in turn to promise them all manner of earthly bliss. 
After a ballet, in which nymphs and reapers are the 
performers, this pageant ends, just as Prospero mut- 
ters it is about time to prepare to outwit Caliban, 
who is coming hither with two drunken companions 
to slay him. 

While Ferdinand and Miranda withdraw to the 
cave, Prospero summons Ariel, bidding him hang 
out upon a line sundry articles of rich clothing 
brought from the cave. These garments are to 
serve as bait for Caliban and his mates, who soon 
after appear, closely watched by the invisible Pros- 
pero and Ariel. At the sight of rich clothing, the 
Butler and Jester greedily seize and prepare to put it 
on, but even while they are thus engaged, spirits in 
the shape of huntsmen and hounds, suddenly attack 
them as if they were game, and drive them out of 
sight, while the magician and sprite egg them on by 
loud hunting calls. 

Act V. In the fifth act, Prospero, clad in his 
magician robes, appears in front of his cell, inquiring 
of Ariel how soon their joint labours will be con- 
cluded? The sprite replies the end is now very 
near, for he has left the King of Naples and his 
companions close by, under a spell they will not be 
able to break until they are released. On learning 
that some of these prisoners seem almost mad from 
remorse, and that even Ariel pities them, Prospero 
promises to restore their senses as soon as they are 

The Tempest 37 

brought before him. It is while Ariel goes in quest 
of the noblemen, that Prospero declares this task 
safely accomplished, he'll break his wand, and cease 
for ever to practise magic! 

Just then appear within the magic circle drawn 

by Prospero, the King of Naples and his train, all 

under a spell they cannot break, which enables the 

magician to address them, thanking the councillor 

for his kindly help, reproving the King of Naples, 

and telling the conspirators that he forgives them, 

knowing they will soon realise the enormity of their 

past offence. Then, calling for his ducal attire so 

he can make himself known as master of Milan, 

Prospero is arrayed by Ariel, whom he promises 

soon to free, directing him first to bring the ship's 

crew to this spot. 

Ariel having vanished, Prospero releases the no- 
blemen from the spell which has held them en- 
chained, whereupon the councillor gasps he wishes 
* some heavenly power ' would guide them * out of 
this fearful country.' 

While making brief replies to their questions in 
regard to his escape, Prospero relates his coming to 
the island, telling the King of Naples, who al- 
ludes to his recent sorrow, that he can sympathise 
with him, as the same tempest has robbed him of his 
only daughter. The King expressing deep regret 
that the young people should not have survived their 
parents to rule together over Naples, Prospero sud- 
denly grants him a glimpse into the cave, where he 
beholds Miranda and Ferdinand, apparently playing 
chess, but in reality so absorbed in each other that 

38 Stories of Shakespeare^ s Comedies 

they pay little heed to their game, and are lost to 
all the world besides. 

For a brief moment the King of Naples deems 
this lovely sight one of the many delusions of which 
he has been victim since landing on this island, but 
is overjoyed when convinced that it is real. At that 
moment, Ferdinand, becoming aware at last of his 
father's presence, falls upon his neck, exclaiming 
rapturously, * Though the seas threaten, they are 
merciful ! ' 

The two fathers gladly bless their children, who 
are to be King and Queen of Naples, and the young 
couple are still receiving the congratulations of the 
noblemen, when Ariel appears, bringing the Master 
of the vessel and the Boatswain, both of whom are 
amazed to behold their august passengers safe, and 
delighted to report their vessel unharmed. 

Meantime, still at Prosperous bidding, Ariel goes 
in quest of Caliban, the Butler, and Jester, whom he 
next drives on the stage still tricked out in stolen ap- 
parel. While the noblemen easily recognise their 
two shipmates, Prospero explains that Caliban, his 
man, has induced these two villains to come and 
murder him in his sleep. They are, of course, un- 
able to refute this accusation, and when Caliban 
learns that the creatures whom he took for gods are 
mere drunkards, he humbly returns to his old servi- 
tude, and, at Prosperous command, goes oflE with 
them to trim the cave for the reception of august 

Prospero then invites the noblemen into his cell, 
where he promises to entertain them that evening 

The Tempest 39 

with a detailed account of his adventures, adding 
that Ariel will favour them on the morrow with 
breezes which will soon enable them to reach home. 
There, Ferdinand and Miranda are to be married, 
and his daughter being happy as future Queen of 
Naples, Prospero proposes to withdraw to Milan, to 
prepare for death. 

Having finally released the happy Ariel from 
bondage, Prospero, in an epilogue, takes leave of 
the spectators, .begging them to free him, in his turn, 
by granting him their applause. 


Act I. The first act opens in an orchard where 
Orlando and his servant Adam are engrossed in 
conversation, Orlando stating that if he remem- 
bers correctly, his father bequeathed him a certain 
sum, bidding his elder brother Oliver educate him. 
He complains, however, that, instead of obeying 
these injunctions, Oliver has allowed him to remain 
untrained, although his actions show he is one of na- 
ture's gentlemen. 

To prove to his old servant how unkindly Oliver 
treats him, Orlando bids the man lurk in the neigh- 
bourhood, and listen to their conversation, for his 
elder brother is just approaching. Oliver begins 
by roughly inquiring what Orlando is * making or 
marring,* becoming indignant when told that God's 
handiwork is, indeed, being marred, since his brother 
is left in ignorance and treated like a prodigal, al- 
though he has never behaved like one. 

While not begrudging his elder brother the lion's 
share of his father's fortune, Orlando, nevertheless, 
reproaches him for un fraternal conduct, thereby so 
enraging Oliver that he tries to lay violent hands 
upon him. This insult is hotly resented by Orlando, 
who vows he will not remain here to be ill-treated, 
and compels his brother to hear a few bitter truths 
ere demanding his portion. This provokes his dis- 


As You Like It 41 

missal empty handed, Oliver bidding Adam accom- 
pany him when he attempts to intercede. 

Adam and Orlando have barely left the stage 
when Oliver begins plotting to punish his brother 
for hi^ impudence. Inquiring of a servant whether 
the wrestler has arrived, and leari^ing that the man 
awaits his pleasure, he has him summoned. Then he 
jocosely inquires what the news may be, and learns 
that the good old duke, banished by a wicked 
younger brother, has sought refuge in the forest of 
Arden (Ardennes), whither many lords have gone 
into voluntary exile to keep him company. In re- 
ply to Oliver's inquiry as to what has become of 
Rosalind, the good duke's daughter, the wrestler ex- 
plains she has been kept at court as companion to 
her uncle's child, for whom she feels more than 
cousinly affection. 

This news retailed, the wrestler announces he is 
to exhibit his talents before the usurping duke on 
the morrow, and has come to warn Oliver not to 
allow his brother to measure strength with him, as 
he might injure a stripling." Thanking him for his 
kindly meant warning, Oliver states his brother 
has been guilty of such ingratitude that he should 
feel no regret should an accident befall him ; where- 
upon the wrestler departs, promising to give Orlando, 
— ^whom Oliver has painted in the blackest colors, — 
due punishment for his supposed crime. When he 
has gone, Oliver, fearing lest Orlando may not 
challenge the wrestler, decides to taunt him so art- 
fully, that he will be sure to try his luck on the 

42 Stories of Shakespeare^ s Comedies 

The next scene is played on the lawn before the 
duke's palace, where the two cousins are standing 
together, Celia vainly trying to cheer Rosalind by 
telling her that although her father is an exile, she 
ought to be thankful not to be parted from her 
friend. To comfort Rosalind for her fallen for- 
tunes, Celia adds, that, being her father's only 
daughter and heir, she will, at his death, restore the 
usurped duchy to its rightful owner. 

The young ladies are still discussing these matters 
and wondering how to beguile the time until even- 
ing, when Touchstone appears, summoning them to 
join the duke. When this jester quaintly swears by 
his honour he was sent for them, the girls teasingly 
inquire where he learned such an oath, whereupon 
he whimsically demonstrates how easy it is to swear 
by what one doesn't possess! The three are still 
engaged in a playful war of wit when another mes- 
senger comes, exclaiming the ladies have lost the 
greater part of the afternoon's sport, during which 
the wrestler, pitted against three brothers, has de- 
feated them all in turn, to the lasting grief of their 
aged father. He adds, however, that the match is 
not over, a stripling having just challenged the cham- 
pion to wrestle with him on this very lawn. 

A moment later a flourish of trumpets announces 
the arrival of the usurping duke, followed by his 
train, which includes the wrestler and Orlando. 
When the girls perceive how young and slender the 
challenger seems, they express great pity, only to be 
told the duke has vainly tried to deter him from 
risking his life. As a last hope, he now begs the 

As You Like It 43 

ladies to try what they can do; so, while Celia quietly 
advises Orlando to give up the rash attempt for his 
own sake, Rosalind, with better comprehension of 
human nature, inquires whether he would withdraw 
should she persuade' the duke to forbid the match ? 

Although touched by the solicitude they show, Or- 
lando quietly declares nothing would induce him to 
desist, adding that should he be slain no one will 
mourn him. Seeing him determined, the girls wish 
they might add their small store of strength to his 
own, thus enabling him to win, a kindness which 
nerves Orlando to do his best, for he hopes to earn 
the approval of Rosalind, with whom he has fallen in 
love at first sight. 

When, therefore, the call comes for the match, 
Orlando springs forward, and closing with his an- 
tagonist, writhes a while to and fro, ere he throws 
the famous champion by a sudden clever turn. So 
severe is the fall, that the wrestler has to be carried 
off the field unconscious, while the duke demands 
the victor's name. On hearing that he is Orlando, 
third son of Sir Rowland de Boys, the usurper 
frowns, for he is aware that this nobleman was a 
loyal partisan of his deposed brother. 

Instead of praising Orlando for his victory, there- 
fore, he marches haughtily off the stage, no one re- 
maining on the green save the abashed victor, and 
the two young ladies. The former assures the latter 
that he is proud of being his father's son, whereat 
Rosalind replies that since his father was a friend of 
hers, ^e will atone for the duke's slight, and show 
her appreciation for what he has done, by giving 

44' Stories of Shakespeare^ s Comedies 

him the little golden chain she wears around her 
neck, although she knows it is but a trifling gift. 
Having thus shown her favour, she departs with Ce- 
lia, leaving the youth to regret he had not sufficient 
presence of mind to express his gratitude as he 

It is while Orlando stands there musing, that one 
of the courtiers comes back to caution him to leave 
as soon as possible, as the duke in his wrath may 
resort to treacherous measures. Although grateful 
for this warning, Orlando is so anxious to ascertain 
who the ladies are, that he questions the courtier, 
thus learning that Rosalind and Celia have been 
brought up together and are closely bound in friend- 
ship, although the duke has recently taken such a 
dislike to his niece that his displeasure will probably 
soon break forth. Having given this information, 
the courtier departs, and Orlando, deciding that he 
must * fly from the smoke into the smother,' van- 

We next behold a room in the palace, where the 
girls are discussing the wrestling match, Celia slyly 
accusing Rosalind of having fallen in love with the 
youthful champion. Unable to deny the soft im- 
peachment, Rosalind tries to account for her infatu- 
ation by her father's love for the parent of the yoimg 
man, until surprised by the sudden appearance of the 
usurping duke. His long-smouldering anger now 
breaks forth in a rough order to Rosalind to leave 
his court, under penalty of death should she be 
found within twenty miles of it in ten days' time. 
When his niece gently asks how she has incurred his 

As You Like It 45 

displeasure, he reviles her as a traitor, revealing, 
however, that the main cause of his displeasure is the 
fact that she is her father's daughter! 

Although Celia now eloquently pleads to have 
Rosalind remain, the wicked duke vows that as long 
as her cousin is at court she will never receive her 
full share of honors, and having reiterated Rosalind 
is banished, leaves the apartment. The young ladies 
first fall upon each other's neck, bewailing what has 
occurred ; then Celia loyally declares that, as nothing 
will ever induce her to part from her frierid, by 
one sentence her father has banished them both. 
When Rosalind sadly inquires whither they shall 
wander, Celia suggests they join the banished duke 
in the forest of Arden, proposing male apparel to 
enable them to travel thither unchallenged. This 
plan meets with Rosalind's approval, save that she 
decides one of them garbed as a man can serve as 
protector for the other, and that, being the taller 
of the two, she must personate the escort. Next the 
girls select romantic names, and sally forth to col- 
lect their valuables, don their travelling costumes, 
and secure the escort of the Jester, on whose devo- 
tion they, can rely. 

Act II. The second act opens in the forest of 
Arden, where the banished duke is sitting beneath 
the trees, in the company of his fellow-exiles, re- 
marking that although they feel the season's differ- 
ences, the uses of adversity are sweet, as they have 
taught him to find ' tongues in trees, books in the 
running brooks, sermons in stones and good in every- 
thing.' One of his friends warmly congratulates 

46 Stories of Shakespeare^ s Comedies 

him upon having reached this advanced stage of 
philosophy, before informing him that * the melan- 
choly Jaques,' one of their number, recently shed 
sentimental tears over a wounded stag, moralising 
on its suffering and on the indifference shown by its 
fellow-creatures. Because the banished duke has 
often found Jaques good company, he decides to 
hasten to the spot where this sentimentalist is weep- 
ing over the stricken deer. 

The scene now changes to a room in the palace of 
the usurping duke, where he is cross-questioning 
those around him, in hopes of finding some trace of 
his missing daughter and niece. He learns that, 
after retiring as usual, the girls must have escaped 
with the Jester, no clue having been found to their 
destination, although it is rumoured in the palace 
that they joined the young wrestler whose feats they 
so admired. These tidings add such fuel to the 
duke's wrath, that he has Oliver summoned, intend- 
ing to demand from him the surrender of the run- 

The scene is transferred to Oliver's house, at the 
moment when, returning from the match, Orlando 
encounters the delighted Adam. But, although glad 
to see him victorious, Adam hints he would have 
done better not to return home at all, as Oliver, 
having failed to get rid of him in this way, is plan- 
ning to burn him alive! Finding it inadvisable to 
remain at home under these circumstances, Orlando 
wonders where he can go, whereupon Adam gener- 
ously offers him the savings of a lifetime, proposing, 
moreover, to attend him, although nearly four-score 

• i 

, . 1. 

C V 


As You Like It 47 

years of age. Touched by his generosity and devo- 
tion, Orlando accepts, realising that his brother's 
house is equally unsafe for both of them, and hoping 
soon to be able to provide for his own and his aged 
servant's needs. 

The next scene is played in the forest of Arden, 
whither Rosalind, in boy's apparel, Celia, dressed 
like a peasant girl, and the Jester sink down ex- 
hausted by the wayside. When Rosalind exclaims 
that her spirits are weary, the Jester quaintly vows 
his spirits would not matter were only his legs less 
tired, and seems half inclined to follow her example 
when she declares she could find it in her heart to 
cry like a woman, notwithstanding her manly attire. 
The trio have been walking many days, the distance 
being great between the duchy and this forest, and 
are therefore so worn out with fatigue, and so faint 
from lack of food, that they are unable to proceed 
another step. The Jester, after ruefully emitting 
sundry whimsical remarks on the folly of travelling, 
decides, *when I was at home, I was in a better 
place: but travellers must be content!' 

It is while all three are wondering where they are, 
and how they can procure food and shelter, that a 
couple of shepherds stroll toward them, the younger 
confiding to the elder his passion for the shepherdess 
Phebe, describing his feelings so graphically that 
Rosalind realises for the first time her heart is un- 
dergoing similar pangs for Orlando. The Jester 
quaintly comments that he, too, once knew what it 
is to be in love, but Celia, too exhausted to heed any- 
thing save her weariness, prosaically urges her com- 


48 Stories of Shakespeare^s Comedies 

panions to address the older shepherd and try and 
obtain aid^ 

In reply to the question of Rosalind, — ^whom he 
naturally takes for a lad, — the old shepherd states 
that, although sorry for Celia, he cannot assist her, 
his master having just dismissed him, for he is on 
the point of selling his farm to the young shepherd 
who has just left him. On hearing there is a farm 
for sale in the neighbourhood, Rosalind and Celia, 
who are well provided with funds, suddenly decide 
to purchase it, retaining the old man as their servant 
at higher wages, news so welcome to their inter- 
locutor, that he joyfully bids them follow him to 
the farm, where he vows they will be welcome. 

The deserted forest glade is next occupied by 
some of the duke's merry outlaws, who sing a hunt- 
ing song which delights the * melancholy Jaques,* 
and to which they daily add some verses. Having 
finished singing their most recent addition, the hunts- 
men depart, to announce to the duke that a ban- 
quet awaits him. 

We next behold Orlando and Adam, who have 
also made their way to the forest of Arden, and who, 
like the girls and the Jester, have found the journey 
long and weary. Both are so faint from hunger, 
that poor old Adam sinks down by the wayside, bid- 
ding his master forsake him, since he cannot drag 
himself another step. After trying to stimulate 
Adam by saying that a little food will restore his 
strength and spirits, Orlando lays him down beneath 
a tree, bidding him hold fast to life until his return, 
for he is going into the forest to get him something 

As You Like It 49 

to eat, vowing he will do so or lose his life in the 
attempt \ ^ 

Meantime, the duke and his companions have gath- 
ered around the venison they have slain, and are just 
wondering why Jaques does not appear when he 
joins them, relating how he has been detained in the 
forest by a most edifying conversation with a Fool. 
He claims that * motley's the only wear,' and begs 
the duke to appoint him Fool of his forest court, for 
such an office would enable him to tell the truth in 
guise of a jest. They have just reached this point 
in the conversation when Orlando rushes upon them 
with drawn sword, bidding them refrain from touch- 
ing the food before them, under penalty of death ! 

The duke, surprised, first inquires why he should 
be debarred from partaking of his own game; then, 
suspecting the intruder is in sore need of food, 
generously offers to overlook his rudeness, and in- 
vites him to partake of the meal. In response Or- 
lando eloquently describes what a starving man en- 
dures, adding that before he can touch food him- 
self, he must, * like a doe to a fawn,' return to the 
aged servant who has followed him for love's sake, 
but who has dropped down exhausted. On hearing 
this, the tender-hearted duke bids Orlando fetch his 
companion, promising that not a morsel shall be 
eaten until the weary travellers can share the meal. 
Then, while Orlando vanishes into the forest, the 
melancholy Jaques soliloquises over what has oc- 
curred, declaring that Vail the world's a stage, and 
all the men and women merely players,' and de- 
scribing the seven ages of man in sentences so 

50 Stories of Shakespeare^s Comedies 

graphic that they have become world-renowned quo- 

He has barely finished when Orlando re-enters, 
carrying Adam, whom he sets down by the outlaws, 
heartily thanking them for their kindness to him 
and to his aged retainer. Seeing the wanderers' 
pressing need for food, the duke bids both fall to, 
while his men entertain them with a song. This 
over, the duke, who has been studying Orlando's 
countenance, recognises his strong resemblance to an 
old friend on learning his name, and therefore bids 
him welcome to Arden. Old Adam, strengthened by 
food, finally manages to stand, and hobble off in 
company of the rest. 

Act III. The third act opens in the palace, 
where the wicked duke is interviewing Oliver, who 
swears his brother has not been seen since the 
wrestling match, although he has eagerly sought hini. 
Not believing this statement, the duke angrily orders 
him to produce his brother alive or dead, within the 
next twelvemonth, or forfeit his property, which is 
confiscated in the meantime. When Oliver protests 
against this decree, saying he never loved his brother, 
the duke reproves him, and turns him out. 

We now return to the forest of Arden, where Or- 
lando is hanging verses on a tree, for ever since his 
first encounter with Rosalind, he has been so deeply 
in love with her, that he has written innumerable 
poems in her honour, and has carved her name on 
every trunk ! Having hung his last effusion upon a 
bough, Orlando departs, his place being soon oc- 
cupied by the old shepherd and Jester, the former 

As You Like It 51 

quizzically inquiring of the latter how he enjoys 
rural life? In reply, the Jester emits sundry philo- 
sophical remarks, ere he challenges his rustic com- 
panion to show what he can do in that line, thus 
eliciting from him a few aphorisms which demon- 
strate that he is a born philosopher. 

They have just finished a quaint exposition of 
their respective points of view, when Rosalind, still 
disguised as a youth, enters, reading aloud one of 
the many poems she has discovered in the forest, all of 
which, to her intense amazement, contain her name. 
When the Jester, who overhears her declaiming 
this last production, inclines to poke fun at it, Rosa- 
lind chides him, whereupon he improvises ridiculous 
rhymes, which he pronounces fully equal to those 
she holds, although they did not sprout from a tree I 
They are still good-naturedly sparring on this sub- 
ject, when Celia, as peasant girl, arrives perusing 
another poem, wherein Rosalind is described as pos- 
sessing the combined charms of Helen, Cleopatra,^ 
Atalanta, and Lucretia. 

But, although this poem tickles Rosalind's vanity, 
she pronounces it tedious as a sermon, until, left 
alone with Celia, she wonders how it happens she 
should be known so far away from home? Her 
friend then informs her that the poet wears her 
chain about his neck, rejoicing when Rosalind 
changes colour, and making her confess that, not- 
withstanding male attire, she still suffers from fem- 
inine curiosity. Then she reveals how she has met Or- 
lando in the forest, whereupon Rosalind asks ten 
iSee Gucrber's * Story of the Romans.' 

52 Stories of Shakespeare^ s Comedies 

eager questions in a breath, imploring her frienJ to 
answer in a word, an impossible feat Celia laugh- 
ingly declines to perform. It is only after some 
time that Rosalind discovers how Celia surprised the 
youth, lying in the forest, in huntsman attire, com- 
posing some of the verses with which he decks the 

While they are still talking, seeing Orlando and 
Jaques come toward them, the girls hide in the 
thicket, hoping to overhear what they are saying. 
Jaques is terming Orlando a poor companion, a 
compliment the youth returns in kind. Then 
Jaques bids the youth cease disfiguring trees with 
love tokens, although in the next breath he curi- 
ously inquires who the Rosalind may be whom the 
youth so fervently addresses? 

In reply to a query from Jaques relating to his 
sweetheart's stature, Orlando pronounces Rosalind 
* just as high as my heart,' adding that if, as his com- 
panion avers, his worst folly consists in being in love, 
he would not exchange it for Jaques' best virtue! 

After a little more conversation, Jaques leaves 
Orlando beneath a tree, and the moment seeming 
auspicious, Rosalind, confident not to be recognised 
in man's garb, whispers to Celia that she is going 
to play the part of a saucy page. A second later, 
creeping cautiously out of the thicket, Rosalind peers 
at Orlando from behind the tree, asking the time. 
When he reproves her for using the expression * the 
lazy foot of time,' she saucily describes how time 
passes for different persons under varying circum- 

As You Like It 53 

These sprightly speeches so captivate Orlando's 
fancy that he inquires where this page resides, only 
to learn that his farm is situated on the ' skirts of 
the forest, like fringe upon a petticoat/ He also 
discovers that his interlocutor's education is due to 
a learned uncle, of whose wisdom the page volun- 
teers samples, ere, deeming it time to turn the tables, 
he suddenly says some lover must be lurking near, as 
* Rosalind ' is carved on every tree, while rhymes 
in her honour flutter from every bush. When Or- 
lando pleads guilty to being this lovelorn swain, the 
page vows he bears none of the usual hall^narks of 
a lover, which consist in lean cheeks, sunken eyes, and 
neglected apparel. 

Notwithstanding this lack, Orlando assures the 
page he is a lover indeed, grieving sorely because 
parted from the object of his passion. Thereupon 
the page offers to cure him by personating Rosalind, 
declaring that although a mere lad, he can counter- 
fat women so well, that if Orlando will only make 
love to him as to his sweetheart, he will soon cease 
to suffer. Although averring no remedy exists for 
his complaint, Orlando consents to try the plan, ere 
he and the page disappear into the forest depths, just 
as the Jester strolls on the scene with a shepherdess, 
whom he is helping gather her goats. 

Their conversation is overheard by the melancholy 
Jaques, who seems duly amused when the Jester 
wooes this shepherdess in terms she cannot under- 
stand, and concludes with the proposal to be mar- 
ried by the vicar of a neighbouring village. Al- 
though dull and matter-of-fact, the shepherdess read- 

54 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

ily understands a proposal, and has barely signified 
consent, when a clerical gentleman appears. He is 
not, however, an orthodox incumbent, but an unac- 
credited priest, Sir Oliver Martext, and gravely re- 
fuses to marry the couple unless some one gives away 
the bride. Thereupon the melancholy Jaques volun- 
teers his services, although he declares he deems it 
hardly seemly for a couple to be married like gypsies 
under a bush. This remark convinces the Jester that 
this is not the vicar he needs, so he withdraws with 
the shepherdess, deciding to be properly married some 
other day. 

The next scene is played in the forest between 
Rosalind and Celia, the former declaring she is in- 
clined to weep and the latter teasingly retorting that 
such behaviour would ill become her array. Rosa- 
lind's grief is caused by the fact that after promising 
to come that morning, Orlando has not yet ap- 
peared! In the course of the ensuing conversation, 
Rosalind mentions meeting her father in the forest, 
saying that, owing to her disguise, the duke failed 
to recognise her, although he asked her name. Even 
so momentous an occurrence, however, cannot hold 
her attention long, for she soon returns to the theme 
of Orlando, compelling Celia to admit that * he 
writes brave verses, speaks brave words,* and seems 
deeply in love. 

Their conversation is interrupted by the arrival 
of the old shepherd, reporting that in case they care 
to hear the youth whom they recently overheard, 
woo his shepherdess, he will guide them to a place 
in the forest, from whence they can listen unseen. 

As You Like It 55 

Both Rosalind and Celia gladly follow him, for 
* the sight of lovers feedeth those in love ! ' 

The scene is now transferred to a different part 
of the forest, where Phebe is being sued by the 
young shepherd, while Rosalind, Celia, and their 
old retainer peep out from the thicket. The shep- 
herdess seems obdurate at first, although the swain 
tells her that while she may not love him now, the 
time will come when, knowing what it is to love in 
vain, she will pity his sorrows. Rosalind, in page's 
garb, now emerges from the thicket to inform Phebe 
how foolishly she is behaving, for although young 
and good-looking at present, she cannot always count 
upon so worthy a suitor as the youth now offering his 

While pretending to listen to this lecture, Phebe 
ogles the youthful page, with whom she has fallen in 
love, although he has repeatedly told her it is in vain. 
After bidding her fall down on her knees, ' and 
thank heaven, fasting, for a good man's love,' the 
page departs with his companions; leaving the shep- 
herd to complain that Phebe refuses his offers for the 
sake of this lad who has recently purchased the neigh- 
bouring farm ! He feels somewhat comforted, how- 
ever, when she proposes to write the * peevish boy ' 
a letter, rebuking him for his impudence, and asks 
the shepherd to deliver it. 

Act IV. The fourth act opens in the forest 
where Rosalind, Celia, and Jaques having met, the 
latter, anxious to learn more concerning the new- 
comers, asks questions which Rosalind saucily an- 
swers, saying they have heard how melancholy he is. 


56 Stories of Shakespeare's Coit^edies 

Jaques then explains that his melanciioly is of a 
peculiar sort, being neither that of the scholar, 
the musician, the courtier, the soldier, the lawyer, 
the lady, or the lover, although compounded of all 
these various kinds. He adds that in the course of 
his life he has collected a vast amount of experi- 
ence, whereupon Rosalind pertly retorts that if ex- 
perience only serves to make him sad, it would be 
better to have none ! 

They are still wittily sparring, when Orlando ap- 
pears, and the melancholy Jaques, dreading lest they 
may talk in verse, hastens away. Evidently Rosa- 
lind has been pining for the sight of her lover, for 
she twits him with his absence, pretending to be 
his lady-love, and eggs him on to make such a 
proposal as he would fain offer to his sweetheart. 
Playing her part to perfection, Rosalind pretends 
to flout him, stating, when he threatens to kill him- 
self, that although the world is six thousand years 
old, and innumerable lovers have already existed, 
' men have died from time to time and worms have 
eaten them, but HOt for love ! ' Although so wilful, 
she finally accepts his hand, suggesting a mock mar- 
riage, wherein Celia personates the priest and unites 
her to Orlando. This simulated ceremony is barely 
over, when Rosalind peremptorily inquires how long 
Orlando would love his lady should he win her? 
When he ardently swears 'forever and a day,' she 
promptly retorts * men are April when they woo, 
December when they wed.* After a little more 
talk with the saucy page, — ^who positively fascinates 
him, — Orlando leaves to join the duke at dinner, 

As You Like It 57 

promising to return in two hours' time, under pen- 
alty of forfeiting his friend's good opinion. Then 
Celia vehemently reproaches her companion for wan- 
ton behaviour, although Rosalind vows it proves her 
love for the youth, who still deems her the lad she 

The girls have just left the glade when the 
melancholy Jaques and a band of foresters return 
from the hunt, bearing the deer they have slain 
for the duke's dinner, and celebrate their triumph 
by a joyful song. 

At the end of two hours, Rosalind and Celia re- 
visit the trysting-spot in the forest, where, instead 
of Orlando, they are met by the youthful shepherd, 
delivering Phebe's letter. Pretending to believe he 
has written this missive himself, Rosalind reads it 
aloud to him, vowing the fulsome compliments it 
contains are pure irony, and bidding the shepherd, 
instead of other answer, carry back to Phebe the 
message, ' If she love me, I charge her to love thee,' 
words the swain is delighted to transmit. 

He has barely gone when Oliver comes upon the 
scene, inquiring the locality of the farm where he 
will find a saucy page to whom he is bearing a mes- 
sage ? After a little beating about the bush, discov- 
ering he is addressing the very lad he seeks, he re- 
ports that his brother bade him carry to the youth 
i whom he calls ' Rosalind ' in sport, a bloody hand- 
kerchief. Then, Oliver describes how, after leav- 
ing them, Orlando discovered a wayfarer lying be- 
neath a tree, with a deadly serpent coiled around 
his neck, while a lioness crouched in a neighbouring 

5 8 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

thicket, ready to devour him as soon as a movement 
revealed he was still alive ! While hesitating how to 
deliver the unconscious sleeper from his double peril, 
Orlando suddenly recognized in him his cruel 
brother ; but, too generous to avenge past wrongs, he 
drove away the snake, and, standing between the 
lioness and sleeper, killed the wild beast, which 
wounded him in the fray. 

The girls interrupt this story with exclamations 
and comments, ere learning how, reconciled to his 
brother, Oliver accompanied him to the duke's cave, 
where, when Orlando fainted away, his wound was 
discovered. It was on recovering from this swoon 
that he begged his brother explain his absence to 
the page, delivering the bloody handkerchief as 
voucher of the truth of his tale. 

Rosalind, who has listened with keenest interest 
to this story, no sooner beholds the gory token than 
she faints away, behaviour passing strange on the 
part of a man, however natural on that of a woman. 
But her unconsciousness is very brief, and when she 
recovers, she bids Oliver tell his brother how clev- 
erly a page could simulate a swoon! 

Act V. In the fifth act we see the Jester and 
shepherdess wandering in the forest, still conmienting 
on their narrow escape from being married by a 
man not entitled to perform the sacred ceremony. 
Then the Jester inquires whether his lady-love has 
ever had other suitors, only to learn that she has 
been wooed by a clown who now appears, and stu- 
pidly answers all the questions asked. After lectur- 
ing this simpleton for not pushing his advantage. 

As You Like It 59 

telling him to learn that * to have, is to have,' the 
Jester and the shepherdess are summoned by the old 
shepherd to appear before the duke. 

We next see the brothers, Oliver and Orlando, 
in the forest, just as the latter declares it is strange 
that, having only lately beheld Celia, Oliver should 
have fallen so deeply in love with her, that he can 
no longer exist without her ! The depth of this new- 
bom passion is proved, however, when Oliver pro- 
poses to give up everything and turn shepherd for 
the sake of his peasant lady-love. While fully ap- 
proving of Oliver's devotion to Celia, and ex- 
pressing delight at their approaching marriage, Or- 
lando sees the page draw near, so gladly allows 
his brother to depart. 

Touched by all her lover has undergone, Rosalind 
expresses regret to see his arm in a sling, inquires 
whether he heard of the simulated swoon, and re- 
ports that Celia and his brother are so deeply in 
love that they are to be united on th** morrow in the 
presence of the duke. When Orlando sadly re- 
marks that the sight of such happiness intensifies his 
loneliness, the saucy page, whom he has hitherto been 
wooing in mocking style, volunteers to play the part 
of Rosalind at the altar, too. 

As Orlando ruefully admits that pretence does not 
satisfy the heart, the page suddenly proposes to use 
magic arts to bring Rosalind to the forest on the 
morrow, ready to marry him. This promise seems 
vain to Orlando, who is still brooding over it, when 
the young shepherd and Phebe draw near. The 
latter hotly reproaches the page for showing her 

6o Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

letter, whereupon Rosalind replies it was done on 
purpose, the shepherd alone being worthy of her love. 
Then the page proves how deeply the shepherd is 
enamoured, by making him describe his passion, 
Phebe exclaiming that he exactly expresses her feel- 
ings for the page, who saucily retorts he never felt 
such sjmiptoms for any woman, while Orlando ^ighs 
it is thus he loves Rosalind. At the end of this 
whimsical scene, the page expresses readiness to help 
the shepherd, adding that should he ever marry a 
woman it will be Phebe, but exacting in exchange for 
this conditional promise her solemn pledge to marry 
page or shepherd on the morrow! 

This settled, the group breaks up, its different 
members agreeing to meet at the trysting-spot in the 
forest on the morrow. A moment later the Jester 
and shepherdess stroll forward, conversing so in- 
timately that they seem only half pleased when the 
duke's pages come to entertain them with a song. 

The next scene is also played in the forest, where 
the banished duke has gathered his friends to grace 
a quadruple wedding. Turning to Orlando, he 
wonderingly inquires whether he deems it posiible 
the saucy page should carry out so rash a promise, 
whereupon Orlando replies that at times he be- 
lieves and at times he does not, never knowing what 
to think of the tricksy youth. 

Just then the page appears with the shepherd, and 
asks the duke whether he will consent to bestow his 
daughter upon Orlando? The duke having prom- 
ised to do so, the page next asks Orlando whether 
he will marry Rosalind, obtaining the prompt reply: 

'As You Like It 6i 

* That would I, were I of all kingdoms king.' Turn- 
ing to the shepherdess the page then mischievously 
inquires whether she is still ready to marry him, 
repeating the promise that, failing him, she will 
espouse the shepherd? This promise being wrung 
from Phebe, together with a corresponding one from 
the shepherd, Rosalind, sure her arrangements are 
all complete, departs with Celia, under pretext of 
summoning the duke's daughter by magic arts. 

It is only after she has gone that the duke com- 
ments upon a peculiar resemblance between this lad 
and his beloved daughter, a likeness Orlando has no- 
ticed, and whkh has made him fancy the page a 
brother of his lady-love. The melancholy Jaques 
also announces the approach of Jester and shep- 
herdess, whimsically reiliarting that another flood 
must be near, since so many couples are preparing 
to take refuge in the ark ! In the conversation which 
ensues between Jaques, the duke, and the Jester, 
the latter keeps interrupting himself, to give instruc- 
tions in regard to her behaviour to his rustic bride, 
meanwhile favouring the others with a synopsis of 
the most approved formulas for challenging and 

The appearance of Hymen, god of marriage, 
escorting Celia and Rosalind in woman's garb, in- 
terrupts this conversation, and the duke discovers 
his daughter has come here so he can witness her 
marriage to the lover of her choice, although she con- 
fesses she owes equal allegiance to them both. Al- 
though almost too surprised to speak, neither father 
nor lover seems inclined to disown her, while Phebe, 

62 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

who has been gazing In open-mouthed astonishment 
at the transformed page, now bids farewell to her 
illusions and prepares to marry the shepherd. 

The fourfold marriage ceremony under Hymen's 
ministrations, is barely over, when Orlando's sec- 
ond brother appears, saying he is sent to atone for 
the wrong the usurping duke has done. Thereupon, 
he describes how the usurper set out to pursue and 
slay his brother, but that on entering the forest of 
Arden, he met a holy hermit, who, after converting 
him from his evil ways, persuaded him to relinquish 
his ill-gotten estates, and retire into a monastery. 

The rightful duke now decrees that Orlando shall 
have his duchy with his daughter's hand, that Oliver 
shall recover his estates, and Jaques have sole pos- 
session of his cave! 

The epilogue of this play is recited by Rosalind^ 
although that part is not generally awarded to m^ 
lady. She declares that just as ' good wine need^ 
no bush,' a 'good play needs no epilogue,' before 
' conjuring ' the audience by stating that for tli.e 
love they bear men the women cannot help likiag 
this play, while for the love they bear the women, 
the men will do likewise. 


Act I. The first act opens in a street in Venice, 
where Antonio, a wealthy middle-aged merchant, 
talking to two acquaintances, wonders why he feels 
vaguely sad and apprehensive. When his friends 
sugg^t that, having many vessels at sea exposed to 
all the winds that blow, he necessarily is anxious, he 
denies it, as he does also being in love. 

Before the cause of this strange melancholy is dis- 
covered, Bassanio joins this group with two com- 
panions, who talk and laugh and appoint a meeting 
at dinner, although Antonio seems disinclined for 
fetivities. Still, as he has remarked that every 
°ian has some part to play in the world, one of the 
speakers, Gratiano, expresses a preference for the 
role of fool, mirth and laughter being more de- 
sirable than melancholy. 

Left alone with Bassanio, Antonio comments on 
^e nonsense just uttered, ere inquiring with whom 
"^ friend has fallen in love? In reply Bassanio 
states that, although enamoured of a beautiful 
^y* he cannot sue for her hand, because he has 
squandered his fortxme, and is deeply in debt to An- 
tonio and others. Instead of reproaching him, Anto- 
^^^ generously consents to make another loan, which 
oassanio accepts in hopes of making all good when 
he has won Portia, the lady of Belmont, with whom 


64 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

he has found favour, although she is besieged with 
suitors. Because all his funds are at present at sea, 
Antonio decides to use his credit to borrow the neces- 
sary sum for his friend's use. 

We are next transported to Portia's dwelling, 
where she is expressing great weariness of the world 
to Nerissa, her companion, who slyly suggests her 
mistress is suffering from superfluity, rather than 
from any other complaint. She supports the good 
advice she gives with maxims, which Portia scorns 
or caps, ere she attributes her troubles to her father's 
lottery, which leaves her no choice in regard to her 
future husband. ^This father, however, was wise 
and yiit»ott§i'^as Nerissa maintains, and his lottery 
scheme shrewd, for he decreed that Portia's suitors 
should select among three chests — one of gold, one 
of silver, and one of lead — ^that containing her 
portrait, or forfeit her hand. 

Many suitors have already come, whom Nerissa 
names while Portia pithily describes them, vowing 
she feels little inclination for the horsey Neapolitan, 
the melancholy German, the fickle Frenchman, the 
dumb Englishman, the niggardly Scotchman, or the 
drunken Saxon, who have come to woo. She there- 
fore feels no regret when told that these suitors, 
dreading the test, are about to depart, and joyfully 
exclaims, * I dote on their very absence ! ' 

Then Nerissa states that no suitor ever seemed so 
attractive as the Venetian Bassanio, who visited them 
in her father's lifetime, a man whom Portia charily 
admits was worthy of praise. Their conversation is 
interrupted by the announcement that the strangers 

The Merchant of Venice 65 

wish to take leave, and that a Moroccan prince has 
just arrived to undergo the casket test. After ex- 
pressing great readiness to speed the parting guests, 
Portia idly wonders whether the newcomer will 
prove a bolder, or more acceptable suitor than his 

We now behold a public square in Venice, where 
Bassanio is asking the money-lending Jew, Shylock, 
to loan Antonio three thousand ducats for three 
months. Gravely repeating each statement, Shylock 
thoughtfully remarks Antonio is a good man, al- 
thougji his funds, at present invested in fleets, seem 
in jeopardy. After some hesitation, he asks to con- 
fer with Antonio in person, so Bassanio invites him 
to dine with them both, an invitation the Jew scorns, 
fearing viands unclean. He therefore retorts in 
surly tones, * I will buy with you, sell with you, 
talk with you, walk with you, and so following, but 
I will not eat with you, drink with you, nor pray 
with you.' 

They are about to separate, when Antonio ap- 
pears; whereupon Shylock mutters he hates him for 
being a Christian, and for lending money without 
interest, whereby sundry debtors have been saved 
from his clutches. On that account, he cherishes 
an ' ancient grudge * against Antonio, and, brood- 
ing upon past insults heaped upon him, determines 
to be revenged. 

Pretending to consider the loan, he murmurs he 
can obtain the money from a fellow-countryman, so 
when Antonio joins them, there is some shrewd bar- 
gaining, in the course of which Shylock expresses 

66 S fortes of Shakespeare's Comedies 

ironical surprise that Antonio, who never deals with 
usurers, should apply to him. Confessing he has 
never done so before, and is breaking a rule merely 
to oblige his friend, Antonio listens to Shylock*s ex- 
position of Jacob's stratagem, which he quotes as a 
justification for usurious methods, adding piously 
that * Thrift is blessing, if men steal it not/ 

Carelessly retorting that even the devil quotes 
Scripture to attain his ends, Antonio shows con- 
tempt for such reasoning, while Shylock apparently 
cogitates on the subject of the loan. On being 
pressed to give a definite answer, he wonders that An- 
tonio, who has frequently rated him on the Rialto, 
should apply to him for funds. His eloquent speech 
betrays how deeply such treatment rankles, but his 
manner is so offensive that Antonio haughtily in- 
forms him he will probably treat him with con- 
tumely again, and proposes borrowing only on a busi- 
ness basis. But, when he rashly offers to bind him- 
self by any penalty the Jew chooses to impose. Shy- 
lock suddenly becomes pliant and friendly, and of- 
fers to loan the money without interest, provided 
Antonio will sign a bond pledging himself ' in a 
merry sport ' to allow the Jew to cut a pound of 
his flesh on payment day, should the necessary sum 
not be forthcoming. 

Believing such a condition imposed as a blind for 
granting a favour, Antonio gratefully accepts it, ex- 
claiming: 'There is much kindness in the Jew,' al- 
though Bassanio implores him not to subscribe to 
anything so extraordinary. To reassure his anxious 
friend,* Antonio tells him that long before payment 

The Merchant of Venice 67 

is due, he will have three times the amount at 
hand, and Shylock, fearing his revenge may escape 
him, urges immediate settlement, asseverating he 
would gain nothing by the forfeiture of the bond, 
as a pound of human flesh is of less value than the 
same amount of mutton ! 

Thus persuaded of Shylock's good faith, Antonio 
promises to meet him at the notary's, where, the 
document being signed, the money will be paid. So 
the Jew prepares to return home, where, an un- 
scrupulous knave being in charge of his property, loss 
may accrue to him. 

He has no sooner departed, than Antonio vows 
he is growing kind, while Bassanio, who likes not 
'fair terms and a villain's mind,' dreads the outcome 
of this affair, in spite of all his friend's confidence 
in his ventures. 

Act II. The second act opens in Portia's house, 
where all is prepared for the solemn reception of 
the Moroccan prince, who, — about to undergo the 
casket test, — begs Portia not to be prejudiced by his 
dark complexion, which he would not change for 
any purpose save to win her heart. Thereupon 
Portia coldly rejoins that, her father having decreed 
her hand should be awarded to the discoverer of the 
right casket, she has no choice, but must first exact 
his promise that in case of failure, he will depart 
immediately, and will never marry or reveal the con- 
tents of the chest he opened. Then she proposes to 
accompany him to the temple and entertain him at 
dinner ere he try his fate. 

We arc next transported to a street in Venice, 

68 Stories of Shakespeare^ s Comedies 

where the Jew*s servant, Launcelot, is soliloquising 
on the fact that the fiend tempts him to run away 
from his master, although his conscience disapproves 
of such a move. He is trying to justify himself un- 
der the plea that the Jew is a devil, and that no 
Christian should serve one, when his blind father 
appears, bringing a present of doves to Shylock. A 
practical joker, Launcelot amuses himself in be- 
wildering poor old Gobbo, who little suspects he is 
asking directions of his own son. Still, after mis- 
chievously rousing his father's fears for his safety, 
Launcelot makes himself known, assuring Grobbo * it 
is a wise father that knows his own child,' and 
begging him to bestow his present, not upon the Jew, 
but upon Bassanio, whom he is now anxious to 

Just then Bassanio is heard giving his servant 
sundry orders, so Launcelot and his father approach, 
humbly offering him the present intended for the 
Jew. In the ensuing scene, Bassanio engages 
Launcelot, ere father and son depart to take leave 
of Shylock. Then, Bassanio bids another servant 
hasten preparations, and have all ready for a feast, 
ere they two are joined by Gratiano, who begs per- 
mission to accompany Bassanio to Belmont, a re- 
quest first denied, and granted only when Gratiano 
promises to be discreet after to-night. 

We now behold Shylock's house, where his daugh- 
ter Jessica, parting from Launcelot, regrets his de- 
parture, as he has been the one merry inmate of their 
house. After bestowing her farewell gift, she begs 
him deliver a letter to Lorenzo, who is to be his new 

The Merchant of Venice 69 

master's guest, cautioning him, however, not to let 
her father know anything about it. Launcelot hav- 
ing departed amid tears and compliments, Jessica be- 
wails her own weakness, for she is ashamed of her 
father, and has fallen in love with a Christian, whom 
she intends to marry, althou^ she knows such a 
step will grieve Shylock. 

The next scene is played in the street, where Lo- 
renzo explains to some supper guests that during the 
meal they will slip away to disguise themselves as 
mummers. When one of them exclaims no torch- 
bearer has been provided, Lorenzo promises to sup- 
ply one, just as Launcelot hands him Jessica's letter. 
Amorously vowing * 'tis a fair hand ; and whiter than 
the paper it writ on,' Lorenzo peruses his missive, 
while his friends envy him. Then he charges 
Launcelot to tell Jessica he will not fail her, and 
after dismissing him, informs his companions that a 
torch-bearer will meet them at Gratiano's lodgings. 
The others having gone, Gratiano inquires 
whether Lorenzo's letter was not from Jessica; and 
learns that it contains directions for their elope- 
ment, as Jessica is to leave her father's house in the 
disguise of a page, carrying off all the gold and 
jewels she can secure. Her clever device so delights 
Lorenzo, that he vows if Shylock ever reaches 
heaven, it will be for the sake of this gentle daugh- 
ter, who is to personate the torch-bearer in their 

The rising curtain now reveals Shylock's house, 
where, encountering his former servant, the Jew 
swears he will soon perceive the difference between 

70 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

his old and new masters ! Because Shylock repeatedly 
mentions his daughter's name, Launcelot, pretending 
to think he wants her, calls so loudly that Jessica ap- 
pears. Then Shylock gives her his keys, saying he 
IS invited to sup with Christians, whose courtesy 
he will accept to get something out of them. Mean- 
time, he cautions his daughter to look closely after 
his property, for, having dreamed of money-bags, 
he is haunted by premonitions of evil. 

Afraid lest Shylock may remain at home, Launce- 
lot urges him' to accept the invitation, saying a 
masque is to be given to entertain the guests. There- 
upon the Jew, knowing that robberies often occur 
under cover of diversions, bids Jessica close the win- 
dows and not look out, lest while she appear to take 
pleasure in Christian diversions, thieves steal into 
his house. But, Launcelot whispers that if she does 
peer out of the casement, she will behold a Chris- 
tian whom she will like to see! 

Seeing her father suspicious of this whispering, 
Jessica informs him Launcelot is bidding her fare- 
well, ere she gravely listens to the Jew's strictures 
on the man's laziness, and his cautions in regard to 
his property, closing with the well-known proverb, 
'Fast bind, fast find.' But, as he departs, Jessica 
remarks in an aside, * If my fortune be not crost, I 
have a father, you a daughter, lost.* 

In the same street a while later, Gratiano and a 
friend stand beneath an awning, wondering why 
Lorenzo is late, as lovers are proverbially impatient. 
A moment later he joins them, warmly thanking 
them for their devotion, and promising his aid when 






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The Merchant of Venice 71 

they wish to steal wives, ere all three stealthily ap- 
proach the Jew's dwelling: 

Here Jessica soon appears at an upper window, 
dressed as a boy, timidly inquiring who they are and 
what they want? After answering Lorenzo's 
amorous reply in kind, she bids him catch the casket 
she is lowering, whispering that it contains part of 
her father's fortune, and vowing she is afraid to be 
seen in her present garb, which love only has given 
her courage to don. When Lorenzo tells her she 
is to be torch-bearer, she ruefully exclaims a less con- 
spicuous position should be allotted her, ere she 
prepares to join her lover, bringing with her all she 
can find, as she has systematically plundered the Jew. 
While she is descending, Lorenzo informs his 
waiting friends he loves her dearly because she has 
proved herself ' wise, fair, and true,' although mod- 
ern readers of this play fail to agree with him. A 
foment after Jessica has joined them, the mummers 
depart, their movements being hastened by Antonio's 
coming to warn them Bassanio is about to sail. 

When the curtain again rises we behold the room 
in Portia's house where the caskets are stored. En- 
tering with the Moroccan prince, Portia gravely 
hids him raise the curtain concealing the mysterious 
chests. Having done so, the suitor reads aloud the 
inscriptions, which are — *Who chooseth me shall 
gain what many men desire ' on the golden casket ; 
* Who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves ' 
on the silver casket ; and * Who chooseth me must 
give and hazard all he hath' on the leaden casket. 
These inscriptions seem as perplexing as the chests 

72 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

themselves, so the prince hesitates which to choose, 
for only one contains Portia's portrait. After calling 
upon some god to direct him, he cons the inscrip- 
tions, and comes finally to the conclusion that no 
man would be rash enough to risk anything on base 
lead, and that, although he does not doubt his own 
deserts, it will be best not to open the silver chest. 
Vowing no other metal is worthy to enshrine Por- 
tia's image, he unlocks the golden casket, but instead 
of a portrait finds therein a skull, with a scroll be- 
ginning with the time-honoured words, *A11 that 
glisters is not gold,' and closing with the mocking 
line, * Fare you well ; your suit is cold ! ' 

As he has solemnly pledged himself to abide by 
this test, the prince is obliged to take immediate 
leave of Portia, who, not sorry to see him go, ex- 
presses a hope that all those of his complexion 
who come to woo may be no more fortunate 
than he. 

In one of the streets of Venice on the morrow, 
some gentlemen are conversing about Bassanio's de- 
parture, saying they feel sure Lorenzo was not with 
him, although Shylock searched the vessel for his 
fugitive daughter and her lover. Then they glee- 
fully describe the Jew's rage on discovering Jessica's 
flight with his property, mockingly repeating his 
wild cry of, * My daughter ! O my ducats ! O my 
daughter! Fled with a Christian! O my Christian 
ducats! Justice! The law! My ducats, and my 
daughter! ' Not only do they jeer at this mixture 
of exclamations, but describe how Shylock was fol- 
lowed by the rabble of the town while uttering this 

The Merchant of Venice 73 

wail, and add that his missing daughter and ducats 
are evidently with Lorenzo, for it is reported 
the lovers were seen together in a gondola. 

A little while later they hint Antonio had better 
be careful, as the Jew, suspecting he had a share in 
his daughter's elopement, is determined to take a ter- 
rible revenge should not his debt be paid as soon as 
due. Besides, rumours are afloat of vessels wrecked 
at sea; news to be cautiously broken to the merchant, 
who so confidently assured Bassanio as he sailed 
away, that all would be well, and he need think 
of nothing save securing Portia's hand! 

We now return to Portia's house, whe're she and 
Nerissa are preparing for the Prince of Arragon, 
who is ushered in with a flourish of trumpets. After 
ascertaining that he understands the conditions, 
Portia allows him to examine the caskets, and he, 
too, comments upon the inscriptions ere he decides 
to open the silver chest, for, having a lively sense 
of his deserts, he deems himself quite worthy of 
Portia's hand. But, the lid raised, the over-con- 
fident suitor discovers the portrait of an idiot, with 
a slip of paper stating his chances are gone. He, too, 
therefore bids Portia farewell, and she comments, 
' Thus hath the candle singed the moth,' while her 
maid vows it is evident that * Hanging and wiving 
go by destiny.' 

It is at this juncture that a servant announces 
the coming of a Venetian to try his fate. Little sus- 
pecting who is to undergo the test this time, Portia 
idly wonders who this new suitor may be, while her 
maid secretly hopes Bassanio may appear. 

74 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

Act III. The third act opens in the streets of 
Venice, where two of Antonio's friends discuss recent 
shipwrecks which have caused him severe losses. 
Their conversation is interrupted by Shylock, of 
whom they inquire the news, whereupon he reviles 
them for helping his daughter escape. The Jew 
seems depressed, not only by the loss of his daugh- 
ter and ducats, but because the news of Antonio's 
bad luck makes him fear for his debt. In his 
wrath, he vows, should the money not be forthcom- 
ing, to exact his pound of flesh to feed his revenge, 
working himself up to the utmost against An- 
tonio, and fiercely demanding whether a Jew has 
not eyes, hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, 
and passions, like any other hiunan being? Then he 
reminds his hearers how if a Jew wrong a Christian, 
revenge is inevitably sought, adding that he doesn't 
see why the rule should not work both ways, ere he 
hisses, "The villainy you teach me, I will execute, 
and it shall go hard, but I will better the instruc- 

The Jew's tirade against Christians is interrupted 
by the arrival of a servant, begging the gentlemen to 
join Antonio. When they have departed, a second 
Jew joins Shylock to report that he has not been 
able to trace the missing Jessica, although he has 
heard of her here and there. Shylock thus gathers 
that he has not only lost his jewels, but his daughter 
as well, and this being the first loss which has ac- 
crued to him, he bitterly vows that *The curse 
never fell upon our nation till now ! ' 

In a vain attempt to comfort him, his companion 

The Merchant of Venice 75 

avers others have suffered even more, Antonio, for 
instance, having lost all he possessed. Although this 
news pleases Shylock, he sinks back into the depths 
of grief on hearing how his daughter is squandering 
the money she stole. Then, eager to work off his 
rage in some way, Shylock bids his companion re- 
tain an officer to arrest Antonio as soon as the bond 
comes due, grinJy swearing, * I will have the heart 
of him, if he forfeit ! ' 

We are next transferred to Portia's house, where 
she is cordially inviting Bassanio and Gratiano to 
tarry a month before undergoing the terrible test, 
for she is too loyal to reveal her father's secret even 
to the man she loves. Afraid lest some one else 
may win her, Bassanio refuses to postpone his 
choice, so preparations are made, and Portia, who 
has been softly comparing her lover to Hercules, 
sends him to the caskets, exclaiming, * Go, Her- 
cules! Live thou, I live: with much more dis- 
may I view the fight than thou that makest the 

While music is played and a song is sung, Bas- 
sanio softly comments upon caskets and inscriptions, 
declaring at last, that although the rest of the world 
might be deceived by glitter, or ready to commit 
crimes for the sake of silver, he is inclined to think 
that the leaden casket, which threatens rather than 
promises, will be best. As he comes to this conclu- 
sion, Portia, in an aside, expresses her ecstasy and 
watches him open the leaden receptacle, which con- 
tains a portrait, over whose beauty he raves, ere he 
reads the inscription declaring that since he has not 

J 6 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

chosen by view, he has chosen fair and true, and 
concluding with an injunction to claim his lady with 
a loving kiss. 

Still doubtful that he has won, Bassanio begs 
Portia to confirm her father's choice in this manner, 
and as she has fallen in love with this suitor, Portia 
concedes the favour, ere stating she wishes she were 
a thousand times more fair and ten thousand times 
more rich, in order to bestow herself upon him, 
adding that although merely an unlessoned girl, she 
is happy in not being' too old or too dull to learn, 
and ready to commit her * gentle spirit ' to his to 
be directed as by * her lord, her governor, her king.* 
Having thus made Bassanio master of herself, her 
house, and all her possessions, Portia gives him a 
betrothal ring, warning him never to part with it, 
lose it, or give it away, lest * it presage the ruin of 
your love/ Overjoyed at so complete a surrender, 
Bassanio swears to part with the ring only with 

Meantime, Nerissa and Gratiano, having decided 
that their fate also should rest upon the caskets, 
reach an understanding and exchange rings, ere 
they offer congratulations to Bassanio and Portia, 
and beg permission to be married when they are. 
This betrothal scdhe is interrupted by the arrival 
of Lorenzo, Jessica, and a nobleman from Venice, 
the latter bringing Bassanio a message. The letter 
is from Antonio, and the messenger, who delivers it, 
compassionately warns the recipient it contains bad 
news. Then, overhearing Gratiano boast that he 
and Bassanio have won the golden fleece, he sadly 

The Merchant of Venice 77 

exclaims they have been far more fortunate than 
Antonio, who has lost all he possessed. 

BassaniO) who has meantime perused his missive-, 
shows such a changed countenance, that Portia 
tenderly insists upon sharing his anxieties. /There- 
upon he informs her he has just read * the-^unpleas- 
ant'st words that ever blotted paper,' adding that 
whereas he told her part of the truth when he stated 
he was penniless, his condition is even worse, seeing 
he borrowed the money from Antonio to visit her. 
Then, after relating the story of the bond, he adds 
that his friend, having lost all, may be called upon 
to pay it, for the messenger assures him nothing will 
satisfy the Jew save the terms of the loan. This 
statement is confirmed by Jessica, who has over- 
heard her father and his friends confer on this sub- 

Then Portia insists that her betrothed hasten to 
his friend's rescue, using her money to pay the 
debt, adding when told twenty merchants have 
vainly interceded, that she is willing to offer much 
inore than the bond. She also insists upon Bas- 
^sanio's marrying her inunediately so he can dispose 
of her fortune in his friend's behalf, declaring that 
until his and Gratiano's return, she and Nerissa will 
live as widows, and tenderly adding, * Since you are 
dear bought, I will love you dear,* ere she bids him 
remember it is a friend's duty to sacrifice all for the 
sake of his friend. 

We now return to Venice, where Shylock, meeting 
Antonio and his jailor, expresses indignation that a 
prisoner should have the privilege of walking abroad. 

78 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

After fiercely enjoining upon the jailor to look wdl 
to his charge, Shylock prepares to depart, refusing 
to listen to Antonio's entreaties, and vociferating, 
' ril have my bond,' for since he has been called a 
dog, he is determined to justify the epithet. 

When he has gone, a Venetian spectator terms 
him * the most impenetrable cur that ever kept with 
men,' although Antonio insists it is natural Shylock 
should hate him, seeing he has so often delivered 
4ebtors from his clutches. On that account he feels 
the duke's intercession will not avail, and knows the 
laws will have to be respected if Venice is to endure. 
Still, Antonio has undergone such anxiety of late, 
that he ruefully avers there will hardly be a spare 
pound of flesh on his body when payment comes 
due on the morrow; and, although resigned to his 
fate, he ardently hopes Bassanio will return in time 
to see him loyally acquit the debt. 

We now return to Portia's house, where Lorenzo 
is complimenting her on her unselfishness in sending 
off her new-made husband to rescue a friend, al- 
though he admits Antonio more than deserves all 
that Bassanio can do for him. After assuring him 
she has never yet had cause to repent doing right, 
and that a bosom friend of her husband must be 
worthy of all devotion, Portia announces that she 
and Nerissa are going to retire to a convent to 
pray for their husbands, leaving him and Jessica 
in charge of the estate. This trust accepted, Portia 
privately bids a servant carry a letter to her lawyer- 
cousin in Padua, bringing his answer to the ferry at 
Venice, where she will meet him. Then, turning to 

The Merchant of Venice 79 

the amazed Nerissa, she gleefully announces they 
will see their unsuspecting husbands ere long! 

In reply to Nerissa*s inquiry how this may be, 
Portia next states they are going to assume men's 
garments, and joyously boasts what a pretty lad she 
will make, and how cleverly she will play her 
part. Then, seeing Nerissa still bewildered, but 
having no time to explain further at present, Portia 
leaves the apartment with her, promising a full ex- 
planation while they travel toward their goal. 

When the curtain again rises, we behold Portia's 
garden, where Jessica is talking to Launcelot, who, 
after explaining how the sins of the fathers are vis- 
ited upon the children, states her only hope of salva- 
tion lies in having married a Christian, although he 
fears many conversions may raise the price of pork ! 
This scene is interrupted by the arrival of Lorenzo, 
to whom Jessica gives an amused account of what has 
just been said, ere Launcelot is bidden prepare sup- 
per; but before obeying, this facetious servant exer- 
cises his wit upon his temporary master, and proves 
that words can be used in queer ways. Left alone 
with his bride, Lorenzo comments on Launcelot, ere 
he begins to make love, and asks Jessica's opinion of 
Portia, whom he is pleased to hear her praise. 
Then, after a little more lover-like conversation, the 
pair depart for supper. 

Act IV. The fourth act, containing the grandest 
scene in the play, opens in a court of justice in 
Venice, where the duke, sitting in state, summons 
Antonio, and expresses regret he should have fallen 
into the clutches of so * stony an adversary.' Duly 

8o S lories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

grateful for the duke's efforts to release him, An- 
tonio thanks him, ere stating he knows the bond 
must be paid. The Jew is next summoned, and 
the duke asks him whether he has not thought bet- 
ter of his decision, adding he feels sure he has driven 
things so far, only to show mercy at the last min- 
ute. Then, urging the barbarity of the bond, he 
suggests half the debt be remitted, in consideration of 
Antonio's great losses, ere he bids Shylock speak, 
adding wamingly, * We all expect a gentle answer, 

But Shylock asserts that, having sworn ' to have 
the due and forfeit of his bond,' nothing save a 
pound of flesh will satisfy him ; he also finds a ready 
answer to Bassanio's objections, and obstinately re- 
fuses to listen to reason or to accept the money of- 
fered him. Every word he utters denotes his ran- 
kling grudge for the wrongs perpetrated against his 
race for centuries past, and although Bassanio openly 
calls him an unfeeling man, he insists that he is justi- 
fied in his claim. 

Seeing the hopelessness of the case, Antonio thinks 
they might as well- * stand upon the beach and bid 
the main flood bate his usual height,' as try to change 
his foe's mind. With a last hope that cupidity 
may get the better of cruelty, Bassanio offers Shy- 
lock twice the amount of the debt, only to be grimly 
told six times that sum would not tempt him, and 
that, having bought his pound of flesh, he is entitled 
to it! 

The duke, who has vainly appealed to the Jew's 
mercy, now declares, unless the doctor from Padua, 

The Merchant of Venice 8i 

who is to decide the case, soon appears, he will have 
to adjourn it, as he cannot allow things to take 
such a course. He has barely finished speaking, 
when the arrival of the Paduan doctor is announced. 
The duke orders him admitted, and while the mes- 
senger goes in quest of the judge, Bassanio tries to 
cheer Antonio by saying he will force the Jew to 
take his own ' ilesh, blood, bones, and all,' ere he 
will allow his friend to lose a drop of blood for his 

In reply Antonio cries, ' I am a tainted wether of 
the flock, meetest for death,' adding that ill-luck has 
so dogged his footsteps, that, having lost all the rest, 
he is glad life will not be prolonged, and bidding 
his friend write his epitaph. It is at this juncture 
that Nerissa, as lawyer's clerk, enters the hall and 
delivers a letter to the duke. While he examines the 
seal and peruses this missive, the attention of the 
spectators is diverted to Shylock, who is whetting his 
knife on the sole of his shoe in anticipation of put- 
ting it soon to use, — doing so with such fiendish de- 
light, that Antonio's friends revile him, Gratiano 
exclaiming he must have wolf's blood in his 

In spite of all they say, Shylock continues his 
whetting .process, until the duke announces that the 
learned doctor, unable to appear in person, has sent 
his colleague, who, although young, is nevertheless 
competent. While an attendant goes out to sum- 
mon this substitute, the duke orders his clerk to read 
^oud the letter, ere he greets the Paduan lawyer's 
representative. This is, of course, Portia, as doctor 

82 Stories of Shakespeare^ s Comedies 

of laws, who gravely states she has come to settle the 
case, having studied it in detail with her learned col- 
league. Then, turning gravely to the two prin- 
cipals in the trial, she begins her legal interroga- 
tions, charging Shylock to be merciful, in a speech 
which is justly considered one of the finest passages 
the poet has left us. 

Notwithstanding .her eloquence, Shylock mali- 
ciously insists on his bond, although Bassanio again 
offers to pay twice, ten times the amount, and for- 
feit hands, head, and heart, rather than permit his 
friend to suffer for his sake. To the horror of all 
present, save the Jew, Portia announces ' there is 
no power in Venice can alter a decree established,' a 
sentence which so delights Shylock that he hails her 
as a ' Daniel come to judgment! ' When she asks 
to see the bond, he eagerly produces it, insisting upon 
his pound of flesh, although she again offers money 
and suggests that mercy is better than justice. 

Utterly despairing by this time, Antonio, — ^who 
has been long enough on the rack, — demands 
that his sufferings be ended by an immediate deci- 
sion, whereupon Portia regretfully bids him prepare 
for the knife, a decree Shylock receives with an out- 
burst of fiendish joy. Then, while Antonio bares his 
breast, Portia reads aloud the document stating the 
pound shall be taken from the spot nearest An- 
tonio's heart, ere she inquires whether balances arc 
ready to weigh the amount, and a surgeon at hand 
to check the bleeding of the wound ? But, although 
Shylock has carefully prepared knife and scales, he 
deems a physician superfluous, grimly vowing it was 

The Merchant of Venice 83 

not ' nominated in the bond/ upon whose fulfilment 
he insists so frantically. 

Deeming his end near, Antonio now bids farewell 
to Bassanio, saying he is glad to die since he has 
outlived prosperity, and sending his compliments 
to Portia, who has so generously but vainly sent her 
husband to his rescue. He adds that if the Jew 
only cuts deep enough, all will be over in a moment, 
and reminds Bassanio he has loved him so truly that 
he is about to pay his debt with all his heart. Over- 
come by grief, Bassanio wildly cries that although 
married to a wife he adores, he would give her, and 
all he owns to save his friend, a sacrifice the judge 
gravely reminds him might not please Portia. Un- 
willing to show less devotion than Bassanio, Grati- 
ano also exclaims he wishes his new-made wife were 
in heaven, to intercede for Antonio and save him 
from the Jew, a statement the lawyer's derk mut- 
ters it is well his wife does not overhear! Such 
friendly devotion, however, seems incomprehensible 
to Shylock, who once more wishes his daughter had 
not married ^ Christian, before he again urges the 
judge to decide the case. 

After going through the usual formula, Portia 
decrees the rabid Jew shall have his pound of flesh, 
whereupon Shylock, almost beside himself with re- 
vengeful fury, starts forward to claim it. But his 
advance is checked by the judge gravely warning 
him that, whereas the flesh is his, he must not shed 
a single drop of blood, there being a law in Venice 
to the effect that should a Jew attempt to shed Chris- 
tian blood, he forfeits his estates! This reminder, 

84 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

which almost paralyses Shylock, delights Gratiano; 
but the incredulous Jew asks sundry questions, un- 
til baffled, he sullenly volunteers to accept thrice the 
amount of his bond, which has been repeatedly of- 
fered in exchange for the pound of flesh. 

Although Bassanio immediately steps forward with 
the money, the judge decrees that since Shylock in- 
sisted upon strict justice and refused anything save 
the terms of the bond, nothing else will now be 
granted him, adding the warning that should he cut 
more or less than the stipulated amount, he will die 
and his property be confiscated. 

While Gratiano rapturously cries this is indeed a 
* Daniel come to judgment,' the Jew grimly pro- 
poses to accept the principal of the debt and de- 
part. Even that the judge will not allow Bas- 
sanio to pay, declaring that the Jew, having con- 
spired against the life of a fellow-citizen by induc- 
ing him to sign such a bond, one-half of his property 
falls by law to Antonio, and the other half to the 
state. He adds that Shylock's life also is forfeit 
unless the duke forgive him, a pardon the Jew 
hardly heeds, for, hearing his property is gone, he 
hoarsely bids them take his life! 

Portia now inquires whether Antonio is willing to 
show mercy to the man who showed him none, and 
notwithstanding Gratiano audibly advises him to 
give the Jew a halter, Antonio decides Shylock will 
be sufficiently punished by losing half his property, 
accepting baptism, lending him sufficient money to 
trade with, and making a will in behalf of the daugh- 
ter, who has married a Christian. This decision 

The Merchant of Venice 85, 

satisfies the duke, who bids Shylock submit and re* 
cant. Thoroughly cowed, the Jew sullenly prom- 
ises to obey the court's decree, ere he retires under 
plea of illness, asking that the paper he is to sign 
be sent after him. 

When the duke invites the wise judge to dine, 
Portia graciously declines under plea of an immedi- 
ate return to Padua. This being the case, the duke 
bids Antonio express his gratitude to his saviour ; so 
when he has left, Bassanio exclaims that he and his 
friend owe their lives to the learned judge, who is 
begged to accept, as reward for his trouble, the 
money he saved from^ the Jew. Besides, Antonio 
adds in heartfelt tones that they will ever feel in- 
debted *over and above, in love and service to you 
ever more ! ' 

To the surprise of both friends, the judge re- 
fuses the money, stating, * He is well paid that is 
well satisfied,' and then, being urged to accept a 
souvenir of the occasion, suddenly demands An- 
tonio's gloves and Bassanio's ring. At this request, 
Bassanio demurs, under plea the ring is unworthy 
of the judge's acceptance; but, when their saviour 
insists, he explains with embarrassment that he can- 
not part with a token given to him by his wife, who 
made him vow never to sell, give away, or lose it. 

Pretending to consider this a subterfuge to avoid 
parting with a trifle, the judge leaves the room of- 
fended, whereupon Antonio urges his friend to send 
him the ring, promising to justify such an action 
to his wife. On that account Bassanio draws Por- 
tia's gift from his finger, and bids Gratiano deliver 

86 Stories of Shakespeare^ s Comedies 

it to the departing judge, ere he leaves the court 
with Antonio, who is to accompany him to Bebnont 
on the morrow. 

The curtain next rises on a street in Venice, along 
which the judge is striding, giving directions to his 
derk to discover the Jew's house and make him 
sign the document which Lorenzo will welcome. 
They are now overtaken by Gratiano, who humbly 
begs the judge to accept Bassanio's ring; but, al- 
though Portia takes it, ^e refuses an invitation to 
dinner, and begs Gratiano to direct her clerk to Shy- 
lock's house. Then she watches Nerissa walk o£E 
with him, after slyly whispering she, too, is going 
to win from her husband the token she gave him. 
Meantime, gleefully stating *We shall have odd 
swearing that they did give the rings away to men,' 
Portia returns to her lodgings, where Nerissa will 
join her as soon as the document is signed. 

Act V. The fifth act opens in an avenue leading 
to Portia's house, where Lorenzo and Jessica, 
strolling by moonlight, talk of lovers and vow they 
will never forget these evenings. A noise of rapid 
footsteps interrupts them, and on challenging the 
newcomer, Lorenzo hears of Portia's return with her 
maid before morning, as she is merely pausing at the 
wayside shrines to pray for a happy married life. 
When the messenger inquires whether news has come 
from Bassanio, Lorenzo assures him that, although 
no tidings have been received, he will arrive before 
long. He and his wife are about to return to the 
house to welcome the travellers, when Launcelot an- 
nounces that Bassanio is on his way. After once 

7he Merchant of Venice 87 

more dwelling on the beauty of the starry night, and 
h'stening to music which adds charms to the scene, 
the married lovers are about to leave when Portia 
and Nerissa appear. 

Drawing near, Portia points out the light in her 
house, saying it ' shines like a good deed in a 
naughty world,' ere she begins to praise the music. 
Then, perceiving Launcelot, she eagerly inquires for 
her husband, and on learning his return has been 
announced, gives orders for his reception, just as 
the noise of an arrival is heard, which is soon fol- 
lowed by Bassanio's appearance. After warmly 
greeting his bride, Bassanio bids her welcome his 
friend Antonio, to whom he is ' so infinitely bound,' 
whereat his wife rejoins he is indeed indebted to him, 
ere she welcomes Antonio to Belmont. 

Meantime, Gratiano, too, has embraced his bride, 
who, discovering the loss of his ring, reproaches him, 
for he is soon heard vehemently protesting her token 
was given to the clerk of the lawyer who saved 
his master's friend from Shylock's clutches. Of 
course, this dispute attracts Portia's attention, and 
when she inquires what it means, Gratiano indig- 
nantly replies his wife is making a fuss about an in- 
significant ring! Then Nerissa retorts that, how- 
ever trifling the value of her token, he should have 
prized it for association's sake, paying no heed 
when he insists it was given to * a little scrubbed 
boy,' to whom he could not deny the reward he 

Thereupon Portia gravely agrees with Nerissa 
that Gratiano was wrong to part with h?r I^ecp- 

88 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

sake, adding confidently that her husband would 
never have acted thus, a statement which causes 
Bassanio to mutter beneath his breath it would have 
been wiser to cut off his hand and swear he lost her 
ring defending it ! But, before he can invent an 
excuse to account for the absence of his token, 
Gratiano blurts out, in justification, that he has 
merely followed the example of Bassanio, who be- 
stowed his keepsake on the judge. As her husband 
is unable to deny this accusation, Portia gravely 
vows she will never be his wife until she sees her 
ring again, and Nerissa follows suit. 

Such a decision staggers both husbands, but 
when Bassanio eagerly claims that if Portia knew to 
whom he gave the ring, for whom he gave the ring, 
for what he gave the ring, and how unwillingly he 
gave the ring, she would surely * abate the strength * 
of her displeasure, she mockingly retorts that if 
he only knew the virtue of the ring, the worthiness 
of the one who gave it to him, and realised his 
honour was bound up with it, he would never have 
parted with such a token! Like Nerissa, she pre- 
tends to believe their tokens were bestowed upon 
women, although Bassanio swears his was given to 
the judge, eloquently describing how Antonio's 
saviour, after refusing all pecuniary reward, de- 
manded that only. He adds that honour would not 
permit ingratitude, and that she herself would have 
implored him to give it to the doctor had she been 

Still feigning to be implacable, Portia declares 
that since the doctor has the ring, Bassanio must 

The Merchant of Venice 89 

watch her, should that worthy ever visit their house, 
for whenever he is absent, she intends to spend all her 
time in the doctor's company. Then Nerissa an- 
nounces she will do the same with the lawyer's clerk, 
whereupon both husbands protest, while Antonio ex- 
presses regret to be the unhappy cause of such matri- 
monial differences. When Bassanio humbly begs his 
wife's forgiveness, swearing never to break faith with 
her again, Antonio again volunteers to be his bonds- 
man, staking his soul this time, notwithstanding his 
late terrible experience. Thereupon, Portia, pre- 
tending to relent, hands Antonio a ring to place on 
her husband's hand, bidding him guard it more 
sacredly than her first token. To his intense sur- 
prise, Bassanio recognises in it the token he be- 
stowed upon the judge, and Portia, to tease him, 
confesses that the judge gave it to her, when she 
spent last night in his company ! At the same time, 
Nerissa admits having passed hour's alone with the 
lawyer's clerk! 

When both husbands exclaim, Portia produces a 
letter, proving she was the doctor and Nerissa her 
clerk, calling upon Lorenzo to testify how both 
wives left the house immediately after their hus- 
bands, and returned just before them, having mean- 
time succeeded so well in their undertaking. Then, 
while Bassanio and Gratiano show relief that their 
w^ives have not been as faithless as they seemed, 
Portia delivers to Antonio some letters which prove 
that certain of his ships have reached port safely. 
In her turn, Nerissa produces the document prov- 
ing that Shylock's wealth will eventually come to 

90 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

Lorenzo's wife, who fancied she had forfeited it b^ 
marrying a Christian. 

Then Portia invites all present into the house 
where further questions can be answered, and al 
joyfully follow her, Gratiano solemnly declaring tha 
as long as he lives he will ' fear no other thing s( 
sore as keeping safe Nerissa's ringl ' 


Introduction. The opening scenes of 'The 
Taming of the Shrew ' are often cut out, as the play 
itsdf IS intelligible without them, the omitted part 
showing an inn, at the door of which the hostess re- 
proaches Sly for not paying his debts, ere she de- 
parts in quest of a constable to arrest him. Too 
drunk to heed threats, Sly falls asleep near the door, 
in spite of the noise of an approaching hunting party. 

A lord, dashing upon the scene, gives orders to the 
huntsmen for the care of his hounds, and, suddenly 
becoming aware of Sly's presence, is seized with a 
niad desire to play a practical joke upon him. He, 
therefore, bids his servants pick up the unconscious 
tmker, giving them elaborate directions to put him 
to bed in a luxurious chamber, pretending, when he 
awakes, that he is their beloved master, who has 
^n insane for some time. 

The servants, delighted with the idea, remove the 
^conscious man, just as strolling players arrive and 
^e hired to perform that evening for Sly*s benefit. 
These preparations completed, the lord directs that 
*^^s page dress up like a lady, to play the part of Sly's 
^^fe, using an onion, if necessary, to produce arti- 
^cial tears ! 

The next scene is played in the lord's house, where 
^ly awakens, surrounded by obsequious attendants, 



92 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

proffering garments, drink, and food. When the 
bewildered tinker insists that he never owned more 
than one suit of clothes at a time, the attendants pity 
his delusions, and reproach him for not inquiring 
for his devoted wife, who has mourned his sad state 
for the past fifteen years. It is while Sly is mutter- 
ing in surprise, that the page enters, dressed as a 
lady, and weeping profusely, begins to lavish caresses 
upon him, while he, in his bewilderment, asks the 
servants how to address this woman. 

Under pretence of preventing Sly's falling back 
into his sad state of melancholy, a play is v^w pro- 
posed, and it is this * play within a play ' which gives 
its title to this chapter. Although Sly shows so 
little appreciation for it that he wishes it were done 
at the close of the first scene, it has delighted the 
public for the past three hundred years. 

Act I. The rising curtain reveals the public 
square in Padua, where Lucentio is telling his serv- 
ant Tranio he has come here to attend the uni- 
versity, hoping to make good use of the opportunities 
his father affords him to enlarge his mind. Sent not 
only to wait upon his young master, but also to watch 
over him, this servant gives Lucentio the wise ad- 
vice to vary his studies, working hardest at what he 
likes best, adding sagely, * No profit grows where 
is no pleasure ta'en: in brief, sir, study what you 
most affect.' 

They are still talking, while awaiting Lucentio's 
second servant, when people arrive in the square. 
The newcomers are Baptista, a rich gentleman, ac- 
companied by his two daughters, Katharine and 

The Taming of the Shrew 93 

Bfanca, and the latter's two suitors, Gremio and 
Hortensio. Drawing aside, master and man com- 
ment on what is going on, thus overhearing Bap- 
tista's decision to allow Bianca to receive no further 
attentions until her elder sister has secured a hus- 
band; and his intimation that, should either of 
Bianca's suitors fancy Katharine, he is welcome 
to her ! Neither gentleman, however, seems inclined 
to avail himself of this privilege, as Katharine is 
known for a temper so violent that none dare ap- 
proach her. 

Baptista's decision, and the evident reluctance of 
both men to sue for her hand, drive Katharine to 
rude remarks, which prove that her reputation for 
shrewishness is well deserved. This violence also 
attracts remarks from the eavesdroppers, the servant 
averring the lady must be mad, while his master 
opines her manners present a startling contrast to 
those of her sister, the most attractive woman he has 
ever seen. 

While Lucentio is thus falling in love with Bianca, 
Baptista informs her he is going to banish her into 
the house^ where ^he can amuse herself studying, be- 
cause, 'as long as she is visible, her sister will never 
be able to secure a mate. Although Bianca submits 
without murmur, her lovers protest so vehemently, 
that her father, who evidently prefers his younger 
child, offers to sweeten her captivity by supplying her 
with masters of all kinds, inquiring whether the 
suitors know of any good teachers in town? 

Although Baptista bids Katharine resmain behind 
while he conducts her sister into retirement, this 

94 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

contrary damsel follows them both, leaving the 
two pretenders to procure not only masters for 
Bianca, but, if possible, a suitor willing to over- 
look the shrew's temper in consideration of her 
large dowry. 

Hortensio and Gremio having gone, the first- 
comers resume their interrupted conversation, Lu- 
centio rhapsodising about Bianca until Tranio re- 
minds him of her father's decree. The youth then 
boldly decides to become master of literature to the 
lady, his servant personating him, in the meantime, 
in town. Charmed to play such a part, the man 
suggests his companion in service can wait upon 
him, so he and his master immediately change 
clothes. They have barely done so when the sec- 
ond servant comes on the scene, whereupon Lu- 
centio explains to him that, having killed a man 
in a duel, he is obliged to hide to avoid punishment, 
and that, while one of his servants represents him, 
the other must serve his comrade with all outward 

This matter has just been settled when Petruchio 
and his servant appear, the former remarking he has 
come to Padua to visit Hortensio, before whose 
house he now stands. He bids his man knock at the 
door, using the expressions, * knock me, rap me,' 
etc., — terms the servant is too simple to interpret 
otherwise than literally, but dares not carry out. 
Angry at not being obeyed, Petruchio pulls his man's 
ears, thus attracting Hortensio, who explains the 
verbal misunderstanding. The servant now drawing 
aside, the friends converse confidentially, Pc- 

The Taming of the Shrew 95 

truchio revealing that, his father's death having 

made him a man of means, he has come to Padua to 

secure a rich wife. On hearing this, Hortensio 

eagerly suggests he espouse Katharine, warning him 

loyally that, however rich she may be, she has the 

reputation of a shrew. Attracted by the lady's large 

dowry, Petruchio, — ^who deems himself competent 

to cope with any woman's temper,— enthusiastically 

declares he will woo and win her. 

The servant, perceiving Petruchio pays no heed 
to Hortensio's strictures, hints that when his master 
has once gotten an idea into his head, it can never 
be dislodged, adding that, having learned Katharine 
has money, Petruchio will marry her whether or no, 
and that, being a clever actor, he will doubtless scold 
harder than she, should occasion arise. 

In reply to eager questions, Hortensio gradually 
reveals who the lady is, and Petruchio, learning their 
fathers were once friends, feels sure of a good re- 
ception. As he is determined not to sleep until he 
has met the lady whose dowry and temper fascinate 
him, Hortensio tells him of his love for her sister 
Bianca, suggesting that in return for the chance of 
securing so wealthy a bride, Petruchio should intro- 
duce him disguised to Baptista, as a master of music, 
fitted to teach all a lady cares to learn. 

It is while they are discussing the details of this 
scheme that Lucentio comes on the scene, disguised 
as a master of languages, boastfully assuring Gremio, 
— ^whom he has secured as patron, — ^that he is an 
adept in his profession. Hoping to win Bianca's 
favour by providing her with an instructor who will 

96 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

also prove a friend at court, Gremio proudly an- 
nounces he is bound for Baptista's house. 

On learning that Petruchio is also going thither 
to woo Katharine, Gremio is overjoyed, feeling like 
Hortensio, that the elder sister once out of the way, 
Bianca can easily be won. It is, therefore, for the 
sake of disposing of Katharine, that he and Hor- 
tensio bury all rivalry for the present, and vie in 
giving Petruchio instructions, warning him, how- 
ever, to prepare for the worst. 

To all their cautions this bold suitor confidently 
replies a little noise will not daunt him, as he has 
heard lions roar, and sea-waves beat against the 
shore, and that the crash of thunder and the din of 
battle have so hardened his ears that a woman's 
tongue has no terrors for him ! 

They are about to set out for Baptista's house, 
when overtaken by Lucentio's servant, personating 
his master, and closely attended by his comrade. 
The false Lucentio pretends to have come to town 
to sue for Bianca's hand, and simulates great surprise 
when informed that he cannot press his suit until her 
sister is married. When he learns that Gremio and 
Hortensio are also candidates for her favour, he pet- 
tishly demurs; but finally consents to join them in 
furthering Petruchio's suit, feeling, like the rest, 
deeply indebted to the man whose wooing of Kath- 
arine is their only hope. All, therefore, agree to 
meet at a banquet that evening, where they will 
drink to Petruchio's success. 

Act n. The second act opens in Baptista's house, 
where Bianca, hands bound behind her, is undergo- 

The Taming of the Shrew 97 

ing torture at her sister's hands. Although she is 
piteously begging to be set free, cruel Katharine 
vows she shall remain a prisoner until she has 
confessed which suitor she prefers. Thinking her 
sister covets the possession of one of these lovers, — 
and not caring for either, — Bianca shows suspicious 
readiness to abandon both, and thus so rouses Kath- 
arine's anger that she strikes her. 

The father, appearing at this moment, chides his 
eldest daughter, who, instead of taking this reproof 
to heart, lets her sister escape, while she reviles him 
for his preference of his youngest child. Then, 
Katharine flounces out of the room, leaving Baptista 
alone to lament his ill-fortune at being plagued with 
such a daughter! His soliloquy is interrupted by 
the arrival of the suitors, and, no sooner have the 
usual courtesies been exchanged, than Petnichio 
makes himself known, declaring that, having heard of 
the beauty, wit, and affability of Baptista's eldest 
daughter, he has come to sue for her hand. He adds 
that, to insure a welcome, he brings a master for 
Bianca, and then introduces the disguised Hortensio. 
In his turn, Gremio boasts of the acquirements of 
his candidate, while the false Lucentio eagerly prof- 
fers books and a musical instrument for the use of 
the young lady whom he, too, hopes to win. 

Baptista has just bidden a servant carry away these 
gifts, and introduce the new masters to his daugh- 
ters, when Petruchio, as if unable to brook further 
delay, impetuously exclaims, * My business asketh 
haste,' inquiring what dowry Baptista will bestow 
upon his elder daughter? Anxioys to get rid of 

98 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

troublesome Katharine, Baptista promises to will 
her one-half of his wealth, giving her immediate 
possession of twenty thousand crowns, — ^an amount 
so alluring to Petruchio that, after stating what he 
is ready to settle upon his wife, he proposes the 
immediate signing of a contract. But to this Bap- 
tista objects that, before proceeding any further, 
the lady's favour should be won, a feat Petruchio 
thinks he can easily perform, being as peremptory as 
Katharine herself, and fully aware of the fact that 
a great gust puts out a small fire. When Baptista 
cautiously endeavours to prepare him for what awaits 
him, this strange suitor adds the significant state- 
ment that he is 'rough and wooes not like a babe,' 
a boast which he carries out, as you will see. 

They are still conversing when Hortensio bursts 
into the room, holding his hands to his head, for, 
having attempted to teach Katharine music, he so 
incensed her, that she brought the new instnmient 
down upon his head, with sufficient force to smash 
it and cause him pain. The father seems unspeak- 
ably shocked at such behaviour, but Petruchio loudly 
vows such manners inspire him with a still livelier 
desire to see the lady! Baptista, therefore, goes of! 
in quest of Katharine, taking with him the unfor- 
tunate Hortensio, whom he encourages by promis- 
ing that henceforth he shall instruct Bianca only, 
whose gentleness is proverbial. 

Left alone to await the appearance of the fair 
Katharine, Petruchio lays his plans, proposing to 
woo the lady 'with some spirit,* pretending when 
she scolds that she is singing sweetly, when she 

r • 



4 r ' 

The Taming of the Shrew 99 

frowns that she is smiling upon him, when she is 
mute that her loquacity is charming, and vowing 
that, even should she bid him begone, he will assume 
she is suggesting the immediate publication of their 

No sooner does Katharine appear, therefore, than 
Petruchio greets her with a familiarity which she re- 
sents by makkig all manner of biting and cutting re- 
marks, all of which he receives in the most amiable 
fashion. After a spirited interview, wherein Kath- 
arine's sharp speeches are answered wittily and 
wisely, the girl, discovering she cannot otherwise 
anger this bold suitor, deals him a blow. Although 
sorely tempted to retort in kind, Petruchio forbears, 
pressing Katharine to accept him, and declaring that, 
notwithstanding evil reports, he finds her gentle and 
loving. He adds that he is determined she shall 
marry him and no one else, and cautions her not to 
contradict any statement he makes when her father 

A moment later, when Baptista appears with 
Gremio and the false Lucentio, Petruchio swagger- 
ingly declares it was impossible he should not speed 
in his wooing, although the wrathful Katharine de- 
nies giving her consent, and reviles her father for 
expecting her to accept a madman. None of her 
stinging remarks disturb Petruchio, who coolly an- 
nounces that, having found Katharine an epitome 
of all virtues, he will marry her Sunday next ; assur- 
ing Baptista, when she contradicts him, that she does 
so merely to appear coy, having been most tractable 
when they were alone together! Paying no further 

4.0b i ''J i 

lOO Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

heed to her denials, therefore, he says he will go to 
Venice to procure wedding garments, and, after bid- 
ding Baptista prepare a feast, takes courteous leave 
of the sullen girl, who turns her back upon him. 

When Katharine and Petruchio have left the 
stage in opposite directions, Gremio and the false 
Lucentio wonder aloud how any one dare woo so 
thorny a bride, and marvel at the speed with which 
this match has been concluded ; while Baptista openly 
congratulates himself upon disposing of a daughter, 
so troublesome that he never expected to find a mate 
for her. 

The matter of Katharine's marriage settled, both 
suitors deem the time has come to urge their claims 
to Bianca's hand, Gremio stating that, as an old man, 
he will make the better husband, while Lucentio 
pleads his youth as an advantage. When Baptista 
answers by announcing he will bestow his youngest 
daughter upon the suitor who can offer most, both 
begin to enumerate their possessions, eagerly trying 
to outbid one another. The offers of the false Lu- 
centio finally so far surpass those of Gremio, that 
Baptista promises to favour him, provided his father 
comes to Padua to approve the match. He does not, 
however, doubt that this consent will be forthcom- 
ing, for he announces that, whereas Katharine will 
be married on the following Sunday, Bianca shall be 
awarded to her successful lover on the next. 

Baptista having gone, Gremio and his rival ex- 
change taunts, and it is only when left quite alone 
on the stage, that the false Lucentio ruefully won- 
ders how he can procure a fals^ father to act as 

The Taming of the Shrew lOl 

his sponsor, seeing he dare not appeal to the real 

Act III. The third act begins in Baptisfa's 
house, where Bianca is sitting with her masters, 
both of whom are eagerly striving to monopolise her 
attention. In their anxiety to win her favour, they 
prove extremely rude to one another, for when Hor- 
tensio insists that music comes first, Lucentio re- 
torts it should only be considered as refreshment 
after serious study. The young lady, evidently 
greatly taken by Lucentio, now invites him to help 
her construe Latin, directing Hortensio meanwhile 
to tune his instrument, so as to give her a music 
lesson later on. 

Taking advantage of his position as Latin teacher, 
Lucentio construes two lines from Ovid to signify 
that he, Lucentio, has come hither in disguise, merely 
to win Bianca's favour, while his servant sues with 
her father in his name. He has barely gotten thus 
far in a declaration to which Bianca listens with 
praiseworthy attention, when he is interrupted by 
Hortensio, who pronounces his instrument in per- 
fect tune. Wishing to learn more about this inter- 
esting Latin lesson, Bianca pretends to. discover a 
discord and sends the musician away to retune his 


instrument, while she, in her turn, construes the 
same Latin sentence to signify that, not knowing 
^ho her new suitor may be, she dares not trust 
Wni; still he need not despair. 

The musician drawing near again, Lucentio, ap- 
parently satisfied for the present, allows his rival 
to instruct Bianca in his turn. But, although Hor- 

I02 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

tensio, too, makes use of his art to further his suit, 
Bianca proves strangely inattentive, finds fault with 
hiV method, and gladly leaves the room when sum- 
moned away by a servant. Finding no attraction in 
the room when Bianca is not present, the true Lu- 
centio departs, leaving his rival alone on the stage, 
to express dark suspicions of the strange master who 
has so quickly captivated his fair pupil's atten- 

The next scene is played in front of Baptista's 
house, where the wedding party vainly await the 
bridegroom, due long before. Baptista is explain- 
ing to the false Lucentio that Katharine's wedding 
would have been concluded earlier in the day, had 
It not been for Petruchio's absence, which makes 
them appear ridiculous. His remarks so enkindle 
Katharine's smouldering wrath, that she suddenly 
declares the man who * wooed in haste ' evidently 
* means to wed at leisure,' and rushes ofiE the stage 
in tears. Anxious to see her safely married, 
Tranio warmly protests that Petruchio is honest, al- 
though he cannot but agree when Baptista remarks 
that, for once, Katharine's outburst of rage is justi- 
fiable, seeing *such an injury would vex a very 
saint ! ' 

It is while the men are standing there idly, that 
Lucentio's second servant bursts in, announcing Pe- 
truchio is coming, attired in disreputable garments, 
riding a nag whose saddle and bridle are held to- 
gether with strings, and attended by a servant got- 
ten up in similar poverty-stricken style. The wed- 
ding guests are commenting upon this strange be- 

The Taming of the Shrew 103 

haviour, when Petruchio marches in, well pleased 
with himself, and calling loudly for his bride. 
Dreading the effect of such an appearance upon 
Katharine's temper, Baptista vainly tries to induce 
him to don more seemly apparel ; but Petruchio in- 
sists that the lady is to marry him and not his 
clothes, adding that he is so eager to embrace her, 
that he can brook no further delay. He, therefore, 
passes off the stage, escorted by the other wedding 
guests, only the true and false Lucentios remaining 
face to face. 

This being their first private interview since 
setding their programme, the servant hastens to re- 
port how he has played his master's part, announc- 
ing at the end that a false father will have to be 
found to vouch for the false son. On his part, Lu- 
centio admits that, were it not for the fact his fel- 
low-instructor watches Bianca so closely, he would 
try to run away with her, knowing that once 
married, he could hold her 'despite of all the 

Master and servant are still discussing how to 
outwit Bianca's father and suitors, when Gremio 
returns from church, exclaiming over the wedding. 
He avers that, although the bride is noted for a 
shrewish temper, she is nothing but * a lamb, a 
dove, a fool,' in comparison with the bridegroom; 
supporting his statement by a lively account of the 
manner in which Petruchio knocked down the priest, 
stamped, swore, called for wine, flung the pieces of 
toast floating upon it into the sexton's face, and 
wound up his unseemly proceedings by giving his 

I04 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

new-made wife such a resounding smack, that it 
could be heard throughout the church! 

This account of the wedding is just finished, when 
music heralds the bridal procession, Petruchio 
proudly leading Katharine, and graciously thank- 
ing his friends for honouring their wedding ban- 
quet, which, alas, neither of them can attend. On 
hearing that he and his bride must depart immedi- 
ately, Baptista, the guests, and even Katharine, try 
to persuade Petruchio to change his mind. But he 
parries all their entreaties, until, irritated by his re- 
fusal, his bride announces her intention to remain. 
After replying to this speech by a firm yet calm 
statement of his rights, Petruchio shows plainly he 
means to enforce them, for, after again bidding his 
friends enjoy the banquet without them, he calls 
upon his servant to help rescue his mistress from 
the hands of importunate friends, loath to part with 

While Petruchio thus sweeps the bewildered 
Katharine away, the guests wonder how so mad a 
marriage will turn out, even the gentle Bianca re- 
marking that, ' being mad herself, she's madly 
mated ! ' Then, all follow Baptista into the house, 
where they are invited to partake of the banquet, 
of which Bianca and the false Lucentio are to do 
the honours in place of the absent bride and 

Act IV. The fourth act opens in Petnichio's 
house, where his servant has arrived cold, wet, and 
weary, and is loudly calling for help to build" fires 
and prepare for the bridal couple. In conversation 

The Taming of the Shrew 105 

with a fellow-servant, this man gives a lively de- 
scription of the homeward journey, including his 
mistress's tumble from her horse in a muddy spot 
in the road, and vows that, instead of helping Kath- 
arine rise, Petruchio, pretending to blame him for 
the fall, began to beat him, desisting only when the 
bride held his hand! On hearing this, the second 
servant sagely concludes that his master is even more 
shrewish than the new mistress, whose fame has 
come to his ears. 

All the servants are just receiving instructions 
in regard to their behaviour towards the newly mar- 
ried couple, when Petruchio marches in, gallantly 
leading Katharine, yet scolding vehemently at his 
reception. His servants rush forward with apol- 
ogies, but are shortly dismissed, and it is only after 
humming a little tune, that Petruchio seems to re- 
member the presence of his bride. With exagger- 
ated courtesy, he now bids her welcome, calls for 
servants to remove his boots and bring water, treat- 
ing them so roughly, however, that Katharine is 
again obliged to interfere. Supper being served, 
Petruchio escorts his wife to table, but soon after 
sitting down, angrily declares nothing is fit to set 
hefore her, and throws all the viands on the floor. 
In spite of Katharine's entreaties, he rages on, and 
on, vowing at last that they will go to bed fasting, 
seeing there is nothing they can eat! The bridal 
couple having left the apartment, Petruchio's 
servants comment upon his strange behaviour, one 
of them slyly averring the bridegroom evidently 
intends to kill the bride * in her own humour.' Then 

io6 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

another servant joins them, gleefully reporting how 
Petruchio is continuing his angry fuss in his wife's 
bedroom, where he finds nothing suitable for her 
use, and is storming until she knows not * which 
way to stand, to look, to speak ! ' 

The servants vanish when Petruchio reappears, 
pleased with what he has done, and mischievously 
announcing that, although he knows his wife is 
hungry, he is going to treat her like a hunting fal- 
con, and starve her into submission. He also means 
to prevent her from sleeping, under the pretext of 
looking after her comfort, declaring that his plan 
to tame the shrew consists in killing her with kind- 

The curtain next rises showing Baptista's house 
in Padua, where the false Lucentio and Hortensic 
are discussing Bianca's evident infatuation for hei 
new teacher. While they are thus talking, Bianc2 
and her language master stroll upon the scene, and 
the latter is overheard sentimentally declaring thai 
the only art he professes is love ! The suitors in the 
background are amazed by this revelation, Hor- 
tensio, in his chagrin, revealing for the first time 
that he is a gentleman, disguised as a teacher in hopes 
of winning the fickle lady's affections. Both he and 
the false Lucentio now conclude their chances are 
gone, a fact made patent by the actions of Bianca 
and of the real Lucentio, in one corner of the stage. 
Hortensio, therefore, decides to resign his oflSce as 
teacher, and marry a wealthy widow who has long 
sought his affections. 

When Hortensio has gone, the false Lucentio, 

The Taming of the Shrew 107 

turning to the lovers, announces this decision, twit- 
ting Bianca with losing a good chance, ere the lovers 
leave the scene. Just then the servant comes to in- 
fonn his pretended master that, after long search, 
he has discovered a man to personate his father, and 
satisfy Baptista by consenting to his marriage. The 
man thus selected to play the part of Vincentio is a 
Pedant, weary from a long journey, who is no sooner 
introduced to the false Lucentio, than the latter 
craftily inquires whether he has heard that all trav- 
ellers coming from Mantua are to be put to death ? 
This news terrifies the stranger, to whom Lucentio 
graciously promises his protection, provided he will 
personate Vincentio and signify his consent to his 
nuptials. Under such circumstances the Pedant 
dares, of course, not refuse, and soon departs with 
his protector to assume the disguise which will en- 
able him to play a father's part. 

The next scene is transferred to a room in Pe- 
truchio's house, where hungry Katharine is piteously 
imploring a servant to bring her something to eat, 
adding pathetically that even beggars were never 
turned away hungry from her father's door. Faint 
from lack of food, and giddy from want of sleep, — 
for Petruchio still pretends no meat or couch is 
Worthy of her, — she hopes to procure a little sus- 
tenance surreptitiously. The malicious servant, 
^fter playing upon her feelings by proposing one 
dish after another, — ^which she no sooner implores 
Wm to serve, than he begins to demur, — ^finally re- 
vises to bring her anything, for fear of incurring his 
Piaster's displeasure; until, exasperated by these 

io8 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

tantalising offers and subsequent refusals, Kath- 
arine finally loses patience and beats him! 

The man has gone off to nurse his bruises, when 
Petruchio comes in with Hortensio, bearing a dish 
of meat, which he has dressed himself to make sure 
it will suit his beloved bride. Katharine, sulking 
at one side of the stage, pays no attention to him, and 
vouchsafes no response to his lavish expressions ol 
affection and devotion. Perceiving this, Petruchic 
assumes she scorns the food he has prepared for her; 
so he is about to order it removed, when she forc« 
herself to utter a reluctant 'thank you/ as reward 
for his pains. The lady also allows him to lead hei 
to the table, where, while they take their places 
Petruchio whispers to Hortensio to eat as fast anc 
as much as possible, as Katharine is not to get more 
than a taste of the meal. With elaborate courtesy 
he then serves his wife an infinitesimal portion, inter- 
fering so cleverly with every mouthful she eats, that, 
long before her hunger is appeased, the table is 
cleared, and he is loudly calling for the merchants 
from whom he has ordered rich garments for his 

Two dealers now enter and begin displaying hats 
and gowns, which Petruchio decries, but which his 
wife admires, finally becoming so anxious to pos- 
sess them, that she tries to silence Petruchio by 
threatening to fly into a rage unless he cease 
annoying her by constant interference in women's 
affairs! Pretending her anger is fully justified by 
the unsuitability of the garments offered, Pe- 
truchio rudely dismisses the merchants, whisper- 

The Taming of the Shrew 109 

ing to Hortensio to follow and indemnify them for 
their pains. 

Left alone with his friend and wife, Petnichio 
now proposes a visit to her father, stating they can 
easily reach Padua by dinner-time. But, still angry, 
Katharine tartly retorts that they will hardly arrive 
for supper, thus making Petruchio swear that he 
will never start at all unless she agrees with instead 
of constantly contradicting him ! 

The next scene is played before Baptista's house, 
where the false Lucentio appears with the Pedant, 
now personating his father, Vincentio. A servant 
soon reports that Baptista, hearing of their coming, 
welcomes them heartily, a welcome confirmed a mo- 
ment later by Baptista, himself, accompanied by his 
daughter's master of languages. 

After greeting the false father warmly, Baptista 
receives a formal consent to the young couple's 
union, the parent of the bridegroom regretting not 
to be able to grace the ceremony. Under plea of 
immediate departure, he urges the signing of the 
contract, in his son's lodgings, since Baptista refuses 
to do so in his own house lest the other suitors make 
trouble. Baptista, therefore, agrees to accompany 
father and son, bidding the language teacher follow 
promptly with his fair pupil. 

All the others having left the scene, the real Lu- 
centio and his second servant decide that, for fear 
of discovery, Bianca's marriage must soon take place. 
The servant is, therefore, sent to engage the services 
of a priest, while Lucentio goes off to persuade 
Bianca to marry him on her way to join her father. 

no Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

The following scene is played upon a public high- 
way, where Petruchio is riding with Katharine, 
who, for the sake of visiting her father, has been 
humouring her difiicult husband. Although Pe- 
truchio makes sundry ridiculous tests of her 
new-bom pliancy, and threatens to return home 
every time she shows the slightest contumacy, she 
is so weary of his continual outbursts of uncon- 
trolled anger, that she agrees to all he says, even 
when he takes sly pleasure in making her contradict 
herself almost in a breath. This makes the listen- 
ing Hortensio finally exclaim in triumph, * the field 
IS won ! * 

They do not proceed very far ere encountering 
Lucentio's real father, on his way to Padua to visit 
his son. When Petruchio informs him that his only 
son is about to marry Katharine's sister, Vincentio 
asks many questions, while Hortensio, following in 
their wake, decides to espouse the widow without 
further delay, Petruchio having taught him not to 
fear a woman's tongue. 

Act V. The fifth act begins in Padua, before 
Lucentio's house, where Gremio stands wondering 
what is going on within. While he is cogitating 
thus, Lucentio and Bianca slip past him, guided by 
the servant, who says the priest awaits them at the 
altar. Gremio is just commenting on the master's 
strange absence, when Petruchio and his party halt 
to point out to Vincentio his son's abode, advising 
him to knock hard should he wish admittance. 

After repeated knocking, Gremio informs the 
stranger the people within are too busy to attend 

The Taming of the Shrew 1 1 1 

to him, whereupon Vincentio knocks so peremptorily 
that the Pedant, from a window, demands the 
meaning of this unseemly noise? False and true 
fathers now enter into a ridiculous dialogue, neither 
having the remotest idea of the identity of the 
other. In a reply to an inquiry for Lucentio, the 
false father states that, although at home, he is 
not at liberty, adding grandiloquently, when it is 
hinted how lads are always glad to admit fathers 
bringing money, that, being Lucentio's father him- 
self, no one else shall supply him with funds ! This 
statement naturally causes Petruchio to consider 
the traveller an impostor, whom he is about to have 
arrested, when Lucentio's second servant runs up, 
exclaiming the young people are safe in church! 

On coming suddenly face to face with his old 
master, this man, hoping to prevent the premature 
discovery of his young master's plans, decides to deny 
ever having seen Vincentio before. Indignant at 
what seems wanton impudence, Vincentio beats him, 
so that, after loudly calling for help, the man runs 
away, Katharine and Petruchio watching from the 

The clamour at the door brings out the false Lu- 
centio, hotly demanding who dares beat his man? 
He, too, is amazed to find himself face to face with 
Vincentio, who, perceiving him tricked out in his 
son's clothes, suspects foul play. This servant, too, 
denies him, and Vincentio, learning that his son's 
father has been in Padua consenting to his wedding, 
wails so loudly for Lucentio, that the false bearer 
of that name summons an officer. Just as this man 

112 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

is about to lead the prisoner away Gremio estab- 
lishes his identity. 

It is at that moment that the newly made bride 
and groom appear, and the old father, overjoyed to 
find his son safe and sound, embraces him raptu- 
rously, while Bianca falls at Baptista's feet, hyster- 
ically begging his pardon. Unable to understand 
what this means, Baptista wonders who the stranger 
may be who accompanies his daughter ? The whole 
tangle is now unravelled, Lucentio proved the only 
rightful bearer of the name, and the man about to 
be arrested his beloved father. The marriage to 
Bianca is confessed, the bridegroom sagely declaring 
that * Love wrought these miracles ! ' and exhonor- 
ating servants and Pedant. 

Justly indignant at having been gulled, both 
fathers leave the stage in anger, but Lucentio com- 
forts his bride with the assurance that ere long the 
irascible old gentlemen will be appeased. His hopes 
blasted by Bianca's marriage, Gremio wisely con- 
cludes to enjoy the wedding banquet, the only com- 
pensation offered for his disappointment. 

Next, Katharine and Petruchio, silent witnesses to 
all that has transpired, prepare to follow the rest 
into the house to partake of the wedding banquet. 
But first Petruchio demands a kiss, which his obedi- 
ent wife bestows after slight demur, although still 
on the public street. 

The last scene is played in Lucentio*s house, 
where the guests are partaking of the banquet, and 
the bridegroom's speech meets with general approval. 
As the feast progresses, the widow whom Hortensio 

The Taming of the Shrew 1 13 

larried, begins a battle of words with Kath- 
which is greatly enjoyed by their respective 
nds. Bianca ends it, however, by rising and 
g away the ladies, leaving the gentlemen to 
$ the verbal encounter. In the course of this 
rsation, the three bridegrooms challenge each 
to test their wives' obedience, agreeing after 
demur that their wager be fixed at one hun- 
:rowns, and that each husband send for his 
[1 turn, the one obtaining the promptest obedi- 
pocketing the stakes. These preliminaries 
, Lucentio bids a servant summon Bianca, 
o hear the tnan report a moment later that 
istress is busy and cannot come; a message 
causes Petruchio and Hortensio to ridicule 
friend, whose wife is not as tractable as he 

»i Hortensio sends the same servant to en- 
fiis wife to join him, but although he uses so 
latic a phrase, the former widow sends back 
he must be jesting, and that if he wants her, 
st come to her! After a few jeers at his dis- 
ited companions, Petruchio roughly bids the 
t command his wife's immediate presence, and 
gh the others loudly aver Katharine will never 
t to such tyranny, he seems confident of suc- 
His confidence is not misplaced, for, almost 
liately, Katharine runs into the room, in- 
g submissively, *What is your will, sir, that 
nd for me ? ' 

;n Petruchio bids her go in quest of the two 
ous wives, bringing them down by force if 

114 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

need be, since they know not their duty to their 
husbands. She has barely vanished to carry out 
these lordly commands, when Lucentio and Hor- 
tensio express surprise over the transformation ef- 
fected in Katharine's temper, which Petruchio 
proudly avers, bodes ' peace, and love, and quiet 

Baptista, silent witness of all that has gone on, 
now declares Petruchio has honourably won his 
wager, adding he is so overjoyed at the change in 
his once shrewish daughter, that he will double her 
dowry. This promise affords Petruchio such satis- 
faction that he ofiEers to win the wager more fairly 
still, by giving his friends another proof of his wife's 

He does so when Katharine returns with Bianca 
and the widow, by greeting her with the remark 
that her cap is unbecoming, bidding her pluck it 
from her head, and trample it under foot. While 
Katharine unhesitatingly obeys, Bianca and the 
widow angrily chide their husbands for making 
foolish tests of their obedience, tests which 
the gentlemen ruefully confess have cost them 

Turning to Katharine, Petruchio then bids her 
lecture these rebellious wives on their duties to their 
husbands, so, after chiding them, Katharine gravely 
informs them a woman's duty consists in implicit 
obedience, adding, *Thy husband is thy lord, thy 
life, thy keeper.' Then she eloquently describes the 
perils and fatigues husbands are obliged to undergo 
to earn sustenance for their wives, adding that, in 

The Taming of the Shrew 115 

return for such sacrifices and devotion, they should 
meet with love and subjection at home. 

Her speech is so complete a vindication of Pe- 
truchio*s proud boast that he has tamed the shrew, 
that he delightedly bids her come and kiss him, the 
play concluding with his remark to his friends, 
' Twas I won the wager, though you hit the white ; 
and, being a winner, God give you good-night! ' 




Act I. The play opens in a palace in lUyria, 
where the Duke and his court are listening to a 
concert, of which one song particularly appeals to 
the august listener, who is in love. When the music 
ceases and the courtiers inquire whether their mas- 
ter will hunt, the Duke, still full of his own idea, 
sentimentally compares himself to Actaeon, who fell 
in love with Diana, saying his desires for the 
Countess Olivia pursue him as cruelly as the hounds 
did that mythical swain. 

It is at this moment that his messenger returns, 
reporting his lady-love has decided to remain in 
seclusion for seven years, so as to mourn the death 
of her beloved brother. On hearing that Olivia in- 
tends not to appear unveiled during this period, the 
Duke exclaims that a woman displaying such affec- 
tion for a brother would prove indeed a devoted 
wife ! 

We are next transported to the seashore, where 
shipwrecked Viola is questioning her rescuer in re- 
gard to the coast upon which she has been cast, 
and the likelihood of her twin brother's escape from 
the waves. To quiet her apprehensions, the seaman 
describes how Sebastian lashed himself to a mast and 


Twelfth Night; or, What You Will 117 

drifted safely out of sight, — tidings so welcome that 
Viola gives him a reward. 

In answer to further questions, she learns that 
Illyria is ruled by Duke Orsino, a friend of her 
father, still unmarried, although he has long wooed 
Countess Olivia, whose refusal to wed on account 
of a brother's loss touches Viola. At first the ship- 
wrecked maiden expresses a desire to enter the 
Countess* service, but Olivia's vow making that im- 
possible, she decides, instead, to assume the guise 
of a page and serve the Duke. She, therefore, bids 
the seaman procure her an outfit and introduction, 
sure that her many accomplishments will find 
favour. So thoroughly does the mariner approve of 
this plan, that he not only promises to guard Viola's 
secret, but leads her away to prepare for her ven- 

We are now transferred to Olivia's house, where 
the Maid is taking to task this lady's uncle, Sir 
Toby, for coming home late at night and for drink- 
ing. Although Sir Toby vehemently protests, the 
Maid declares such courses will injure him, adding 
that the foolish knight he recently introduced to her 
mistress is worse than himself. This Sir Toby de- 
nies, claiming Sir Andrew is a musician and linguist 
^ well as a man of means, and when the Maid 
tardy retorts that his advantages are more than 
counterbalanced by his dissipated habits, he pains- 
takingly explains his friend is drunk because he too 
frequently toasts his lovely niece! 

The suitor in question now appears and is rap- 
turously greeted by Sir Toby, but his wits are so 

1 1 8 Stories of Shakespeare^ s Comedies 

clouded that he fails to understand his hint to coti" 
ciliate the Maid. She therefore pertly remarks, 
when he finally offers her his hand, that there is 
nothing in it; thereby showing a gratuity would 
have been far more acceptable than tardy con- 

The Maid having gone, the men converse, Sir An- 
drew coming to the conclusion that his slow com- 
prehension is due not to strong drink, but to a too 
great indulgence in meat. When he hears, there- 
fore, that Olivia is withdrawing from the world, 
he wishes to return home immediately, but Sir Toby 
induces him to remain a little longer and exhibit 
his talents as a dancer, as he may thereby perchance 
win the Countess' affections. 

The next scene is played in the Duke's palace, 
where the page Cesario, — Viola in disguise, — is talk- 
ing to a courtier, who warns him that, although he 
has gained great influence at court in three days' 
time, he must not count upon the continuance of such 
favour. This warning has barely been acknowl- 
edged by Cesario, when the Duke appears, calling 
for his page. When Cesario steps forward, the resi 
are bidden retire, and the Duke proceeds to instruct 
the youth, — who has already become his confidant, — 
to visit Olivia, not returning until he has been ad- 
mitted to plead his master's cause. 

When Cesario timidly objects that the lady ad- 
mits no one, the Duke urges him to make use of 
his almost womanly tact to further his master's suit, 
promising to make his fortune, should he succeed. 
Thus admonished, Cesario volunteer? to do his best, 

Twelfth Night; or, What You Will 1 19 

exclaiming in an aside, however, that this will prove 
a hard task, as ' Whoe'er I woo, myself would be 
his wife/ 

When the curtain again rises, we see a room in 
Olivia's house where her Maid and Clown are con- 
versing, the former receiving ridiculous replies to all 
her questions. Exasperated by the Clown's eva- 
sions, the Maid finally bids him prepare a suitable 
excuse, saying his irate mistress will soon appear. 
Thus warned, the Clown tries to collect his scat- 
tered wits, coming to the conclusion that it is bet- 
ter to be * a witty fool than a foolish wit,' just as 
Olivia enters with her steward, Malvolio. The 
mistress shows her displeasure by immediately order- 
ing the Clown removed, whereupon, pretending to 
misunderstand her, he makes witty speeches, offer- 
ing at last to demonstrate she is the * fool ' she calls 
him, provided she will answer a few questions. 
Olivia expressing willingness to do so, the Clown 
makes her confess she is mourning the death of a 
hrother, whose .soul she indignantly declares is in 
heaven when the Fool opines that it must be in hell. 
On hearing this, the Clown promptly retorts that 
none but a fool would mourn because a relative en- 
joyed heavenly bliss! Olivia's admiration for tKis 
clever deduction irritates Malvolio, who contemptu- 
ously exclaims he cannot see how she can put up 
^ith such a rascal, a remark savouring so strongly 
of conceit, that his mistress vows he is so * sick of 
self-love,' that he cannot bear to hear any one else 
praised ! 

It is ^t this juncture that the maid reappears, an- 

I20 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

nouncing that some one is asking for the G)untes:5& 
On Hearing that a handsome youth is at the door, 
Olivia charges Malvolio to report her sick or not at 
home, as she is determined not to receive any more 
messages from the Duke. It is while Olivia is re- 
proving the Clown for some mischief, that her uncle 
passes across the scene, too tipsy to answer her ques- * 
tions properly, so, after he has gone, Olivia makes I 
the Clown define * drunken man,' praising his defini- 
tion as apt ere she dismisses him. 

Then Malvolio returns reporting that the youth is 
so determined to speak to the Countess that he has 
found a witty retort to all excuses, — retorts which so 
arouse Olivia's curiosity that she soon orders him 
admitted. While Malvolio goes out to fetch the 
page, the mafd shrouds her mistress in the folds of 
a thick veil, so when Cesario is ushered in he is con- 
fronted by a veiled lady. Told to make his errand 
known, Cesario begins a set speech, interrupting him- 
self at the end of a few moments to inquire whether 
he is addressing the right person? In reply to 
Olivia's query whence he comes, Cesario urges that 
is not part of his discourse, although he denies be- 
ing the 'comedian' Olivia calls him. He admits, 
however, that he is not what he seems, so Olivia, 
caring naught for his speech, ruthlessly interrupts 
his glib sentences. 

In fact, his appearance so charms her that she 
finally grants him a private audience, although she 
pays no heed when he tries to tell her that the text 
of his discourse lies in the Duke's bosom. A little 
later, when the page begs for a glimpse of her face, 

Twelfth Night; or, What You Will 121 

Olivia cannot refrain from showing the youth, — 
with whom she has fallen in love, — ^how beautiful 
she is. She, therefore, raises her veil, assuring 
Cesario that the colours he sees are fast, and her 
beauty ingrain. But, when the page exclaims that 
so lovely a woman should not go down to her grave 
without leaving children to perpetuate her beauty, 
she is secretly pleased, although she disdainfully says 
her charms could easily be inventoried as ' two lips, 
indifferent red,' * two grey eyes, with lids to them/ 
'one neck, one chin, and so forth.* 

In reply to Olivia's question how the Duke shows 
his affection for her, the page replies, * With adora- 
tions, fertile tears, with groans that thunder love, 
with sighs of fire,' — ^words which evidently fail to 
impress Olivia, as she coldly states she never will re- 
turn his afiEections. Thereupon the gallant page re- 
torts that were he in his master's place he would ac- 
cept no dismissal, but, camping before her gates, 
would call her name day and night until he wearied 
her into acceptance! Unable to restrain amusement 
and curiosity, Olivia again inquires who Cesario 
may be, only to receive the amoiguous reply that, 
although of gentle birth, his parentage is above his 
present fortunes. Again told to report to his mas- 
ter that his wooing is vain, the page finally takes 
leave of Olivia, saying, ' Farewell, fair cruelty.' 

After Cesario has gone, Olivia admits she has al- 
lowed his perfections to creep in at her eyes; then, 
feeling anxious to see more of him, she bids Mal- 
volio run after him, taking a diamond ring she pre- 
tends he left behind him, but with which she hopes 

122 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

to bribe Cesario to visit her once more. The 
steward having departed to execute this commission, 
Olivia marvels at herself, concluding Fate will have 
to decide her lot, since she herself knows not what 
to do. 

Act II. The second act opens on the seashore, 
where a seaman, Antonio, is inquiring of Sebastian, 
Viola's twin brother, whether he wishes to be ac- 
companied further? Afraid lest the ill-fortune 
which has lately dogged his steps should injure his 
rescuer should they remain together, Sebastian takes 
leave of the seaman, after describing the loss of his 
sister, who resembled him so closely that they dif- 
fered in naught save garments and sex. Sebastians 
intention is to present himself before the Duke, whom 
Antonio wishes to avoid, as he once boarded a ducal 

Cesario is trudging along the street on his way 
back to the palace, when he is overtaken by Mal- 
volio, asking whether he has not recently been with 
the Countess? The page admitting this, Malvolio 
delivers ring and message, only to have the jewel 
rejected. His orders being explicit, however, the 
steward sternly places the ring on the ground, vow- 
ing unless the page picks it up it will become the 
prey of any finder! 

When Malvolio has gone, Cesario shrewdly argues 
that Olivia has fallen in love with him, and is try- 
ing to bribe him with this gift. Although he regrets 
being his master's rival in the lady's affections, he 
ascribes this conquest to his resemblance to his hand- 
some brother, concluding, * O time ! thou must un- 

Twelfth Night; or, What You Will 123 

tangle this, not I; It is too hard a knot for me to 
untie ! ' 

We now return to Olivia's house, where Sir Toby 
and Sir Andrew are drinking, having come to the 
sage conclusion that by sitting up until after mid- 
night, they will keep early hours! Their conversa- 
tion is interrupted by the Clown, whose nonsensical 
talk enlivens them, and who finally favours them 
with a song of his own composition, wherein the line, 
* Journeys end in lovers meeting,' is often quoted. 

The noise made by the drinkers so annoys the 
Maid that she soon bounces in, saying the steward 
will turn them all out unless they are quieter. This 
warning is hailed with such a clamour that Mal- 
volio does appear, sternly requesting them to show 
more respect for his mistress, but, instead of silenc- 
ing the tipplers, his strictures excite them to mirth, 
and they swear to take their revenge when he leaves 

On hearing them propose to send Malvolio a chal- 
lenge, the Maid suggests a better scheme, so all agree 
to send him letters, purporting to have been written 
by the Countess herself, and all tending to flatter his 
overweening vanity. This plan having won general 
approval, the Maid volunteers to prepare the letters, 
as she can best imitate her mistress's handwriting. 

The Duke is again in his palace, calling for the 
song which pleased him the night before, which 
Cesario strums on his instrument, while awaiting the 
arrival of the singer. Meantime, the master in- 
quires whether his page has ever been in love, as- 
suming that unless he had experienced this tender 

1 24 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

passion he could not so readily sympathise with his 

On seeking to discover the object of his page's 
a£Fections, the Duke obtains an artful description of 
himself. Learning, therefore, that Cesario is hope- 
lessly enamoured of a person of his own age, the 
Duke exclaims such a sweetheart is far too old for 
him, and advises him to select some younger person, 
because, * Women are as roses, whose fair flower b^ 
ing once displayed, doth fall that very hour.* 

The entrance of the singer interrupts this talk, but 
after he has rendered the song and received his re- 
ward, the Duke bids Cesario hasten back to Lady 
Olivia, to tell her that, however large her fortune 
may be, it has never attracted him. When the page 
objects that the Countess refuses to listen, the Duke 
insists upon his obtaining a more favourable answer, 
exclaiming, when Cesario suggests some one may 
love him as dearly and as vainly as he does Olivia, 
that no woman could ever feel such passion as fills 
his heart! 

Then Cesario gravely assures him that his father 
once had a daughter, who could love as deeply as 
any man, adding, when the Duke asks what befell 
her, that * She never told her love, but let conceal- 
ment, like a worm i' the bud, feed on her damask 
cheek; she pined in thought, and with a green and 
yellow melancholy she sat like patience on a monu- 
ment, smiling at grief.' 

When the Duke wonders whether this faithful 
lady finally died of love, the page gives the ambigu- 
ous reply, ' I am all the daughters of my father's 


-. vnr. ! 

( V .: 

'*- '.^.^■/^«vT'<W 

velfth Night; or, What You Will 125 

and all the brothers, too,' ere asking what 
p his master wishes him to carry. This readi- 
) serve so pleases the Duke, that he sends 
) forth with kindly words, bidding him bear 
jewel to the obdurate Countess, 
now behold Olivia's garden, where Sir Toby, 
drew, and their friend Fabian, are discussing 
:k they are planning to play upon Malvolio. 

they are still talking, the Maid rushes in 
n them that their letters are taking effect, 
: has seen Malvolio practising attitudes for 
t half hour. She also reports that he is now 
way to the garden, where she drops her last 
which is to complete their work. 

Maid has vanished, and the three men are 

behind bushes, when Malvolio strolls in, 
to himself in conceited fashion. This 
ly is accompanied by mocking comments from 
den trio, who laugh when he talks of becom- 
ount, and fatuously dreams of the time when 
will be won, and when, master of all her pos- 
i, he will be able to call her kinsman to ac- 
'or his drunken ways! 

while complacently dwelling on such dreams 
re bliss, that Malvolio suddenly finds the let- 
ncocted to mislead him. Deeming both 
; and seal those of the Countess, Malvolio, 
e of a running accompaniment of jeers, 
his missive aloud, gravely deciding to carry 

its instructions, for he is told therein, * Be 
aid of greatness; some are born great, some 

greatness, and some have greatness thrust 

126 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

upon 'em ! ' It is only when Malvolio has gone, 
that the spectators reappear, delighted with the sport 
they have had, and congratulating the Maid on the 
success of her trick. 

Act III. The third act opens in Olivia's gar- 
den, where Cesario and the Clown are entertaining 
one another with conversation and music After ob- 
taining a tip from the visitor, the Clown so fer- 
vently hopes he may soon have a beard, that Viola, 
who longs to call the bearded Duke her own, bestows 
upon him a second coin. The page is too wary, 
however, to allow the Clown to trick him into a 
third donation, commenting, after he has gone away, 
that a FooFs office is hardly enviable, seeing he 
must so closely 'observe their mood upon whom he 

Cesario's soliloquy is interrupted by the arrival of 
Sir Toby and Sir Andrew, who, after exchanging 
greetings with him, report that Olivia awaits him. 
It is just as Cesario is about to obey these sum- 
mons, that this lady comes into the garden with her 
maid, and the grace of the page's address so dis- 
concerts Sir Andrew that he becomes madly jeal- 
ous. After dismissing all the rest, Olivia questions 
Cesario, bidding him drop complimentary phrases 
when he styles himself her servant. Thereupon the 
witty page immediately retorts that, his master being 
her lover and slave, his servants are hers, too, — a 
statement Olivia begs him never to repeat, hinting 
that, although she does not care for his master, she 
might lend a more favourable ear, should he urgp 
some other suit. It is while Cesario is reproaching 

Twelfth Night; or, What You Will 127 

Olivia for wasting aflfections on an unworthy ob- 
ject, that a striking clock reminds her of the passing 
of time, so, after wringing from her visitor a sec- 
ond admission that he is not what he seems, Olivia 
makes him a declaration of love. The embarrassed 
page thereupon replies that he has no affections to 
give her, vowing he will never again plead his mas- 
ter's vain cause — an announcement which fills Oliv- 
ia's heart with dismay, as she fears he will cease 
to visit her. To insure seeing him again she, there- 
fore, mendaciously intimates that, if he persevere, his 
master may succeed in the end. 

In the next scene Sir Andrew is just informing 
Sir Toby and Fabian that, having seen Olivia show 
greater favour to a page than to himself, he feels 
obliged to depart. Both his friends, however, per- 
suade him that the lady is trying to rouse his jeal- 
ousy, and thus egg him on to fight the objectionable 
Cesario. While Sir Andrew goes off to write a 
challenge, Sir Toby gloats over the amusement they 
are going to derive from a duel between a man of 
no courage at all and a page anything but brave. 

Just then the Maid rushes in, bidding them follow 
if they wish to see Malvolio carrying out the ridic- 
ulous instructions contained in her last letter. Not 
willing to lose any of the diversion awaiting them, 
Sir Toby and Fabian eagerly obey her summons. 

In a street in lUyria, we see Sebastian, Viola's 
twin, and his faithful henchman and rescuer, An- 
tonio, and overhear the former chiding this sailor for 
following him. To this reproach Antonio pleads 
guilty, saying he dares not let his young friend ven- 


128 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

ture alone among so rough and inhospitable a people. 
After thanking Antonio warmly for such devotion, 
Sebastian proposes they view together the curiosities 
of the town, an invitation the sailor declines, deem- 
ing it best not to be seen abroad lest he be recog- 
nised and arrested. He, therefore, proposes to await 
his young companion at the inn, leaving his purse 
with him under pretext that he may want to purchase 
ome trifle ere they meet again. 

We next behold Olivia's garden, where this fair 
lady is telling her maid she has sent for the page, 
but does not know how to entertain him. Next she 
asks for Malvolio, who she is told is coming in 
strange attire, and behaving so queerly that he seems 

* tainted in his wits.* A moment later the steward 
appears, wearing yellow stockings cross-gartered, 
and behaving so unlike a respectable servant that his 
mistress is shocked. To carry out instructions he 
thinks penned by her fair hand, Malvolio displays 
the utmost impudence, ogling Olivia, kissing his hand 
to her, and quoting whole passages of the letters, 
until she charitably concludes he is afflicted with 

* midsummer madness.' 

As a servant now announces the arrival of the 
page, Olivia bids her maid summon her uncle to 
watch over the mad steward, ere she goes away. 
Left alone, the fatuous Malvolio boasts * nothing 
that can be can come between me and the full pros- 
pect of my hopes,' feeling sure Olivia is in love 
with him, and that she is now giving him a chance 
to show his contempt for her kinsman. When the 
Maid, therefore, returns with Sir Toby and Fabian, 

Twelfth Night; or, What You Will 129 

Ae conceited steward, then and there, treats his 
mistress's uncle with such insolence that, pretending 
ie is mad, Sir Toby orders him locked up in a dark 
^oom like an insane man. 

After that, Sir Andrew reappears bearing a 
ndiculous challenge which he insists Sir Toby shall 
read aloud. Overhearing this production, the Maid 
V'olunteers that the person to whom it is addressed is 
'^ow with her mistress ; so Sir Andrew rushes out to 
Post himself in the page's way, taking to heart Sir 
Toby's instructions to draw his sword and swear 
loudly as soon as he sees his antagonist, as that will 
^^e him the proper martial air. 

Once rid of Sir Andrew, the two others decide 
'^ot to deliver his written challenge, lest it betray 
^^e fact that he is an ignoramus. Instead, Sir Toby 
proposes to transmit one by word of mouth, fright- 
^^iTig the page by picturing his opponent as a para- 
xon of impetuous fury. 

Both have left to settle plans, when Olivia and 
the page stroll upon the scene. Alone with the 
youth for whom she has conceived a violent passion, 
Olivia regrets having sought his affections only to 
"e told his master suffers from unreiquited love, 
^ut, before taking leave of the page, she wrings from 
^iiti a promise to return on the morrow, and gives 
*^ini a jewel. 

When Olivia has gone. Sir Toby and his friend re- 
appear, to deliver the challenge of Sir Andrew, 
^hom they depict to the page as a fire-eater. Poor 
Cesario thereupon anxiously protests he has no quar- 
rel with Sir Andrew, proffering all manner of 

130 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

apologies. His tormentors will, however, allow 1^X37 
no loop-hole of escape, and all he can obtain is tfisf 
Sir Toby will try to discover the nature of his c/- 
fence, while Fabian keeps him company and ina- 
dentally amuses himself by increasing his fears. 

Fabian and the page strolling off the stage, the 
scene is occupied by Sir Toby and Sir Andrew, the 
latter almost paralysed at the prospect of a duel 
with Cesario, whom Sir Toby describes as an ex- 
pert fencer, notwithstanding his youth. In his ter- 
ror, Sir Andrew offers to withdraw, pacifying his 
antagonist with the gift of his best steed, by which 
donation Sir Toby intends to profit ! 

Seeing Fabian return with the page. Sir Toby con- 
verses a while with his friend, ere both urge their 
principals to draw swords for appearance sake, it 
being impossible to conclude a duel honourably with- 
out fighting. So, while the page, in an aside, fer- 
vently implores the protection of Heaven, ruefully 
confessing it would not require much to make him 
reveal how little of the aian there is in his com- 
position. Sir Andrew is being heartened by his friends 
to act the part of a man. 

The trembling antagonists have just been brought 
face to face, and are awaiting the signal, when An- 
tonio rushes between them, imagining the page is 
Sebastian, whom he resembles so closely. When 
Antonio, therefore, offers to fight in his stead, the 
page proves so eager to grant him that privilege, 
that Sir Toby interferes, until Antonio in anger 
challenges him. 

Toby and Antonio are ji^st crossing swords, when 

Twelfth Night; or, What You Will 131 

officers enter to arrest the latter for his attack upon 
the ducal vessel. Turning to Cesario, — ^whom he 
still thinks his protege Sebastian, — ^Antonio now de- 
mands the return of his purse, not wishing to find 
himself penniless in prison. In reply to a request 
he fails to understand, the page generously offers to 
reward Antonio for interrupting the duel by shar- 
ing with him all he has — a sum which appears beg- 
garly in comparison with the contents of Antonio's 
purse. Hotly reproaching the youth for ingratitude, 
—an accusation truthfully refuted, — ^Antonio indig- 
nantly describes how he saved Sebastian from the 
jaws of death, ere the officers lead him away. 

It is only then that the page sufficiently recovers 
his senses to wonder whether his brother, whose name 
has just been uttered, may not have been saved by 
this seaman, and exclaims rejoicing, * O, if it prove, 
tempests are kind, and salt waves fresh in love ! ' 

Meantime it is evident that Sir Toby and his 
companions consider Cesario a paltry lad, who not 
only shows no courage in a fight, but is base enough 
to deny a friend. Such is the contempt they express 
^er he has gone, that Sir Andrew eagerly offers to 
follow and slap him, — an act of daring which 
affords his companions such intense amusement that 
Aey follow to witness the fun. 

Act IV. The fourth act opens before Olivia's 
house, where Sebastian and the Clown are talking, 
^e latter seeming amused that the former should 
^cny his acquaintance, although he has brought 
him many messages. However, Sebastian good-na- 
turedly gives the Clown a tip, and this individual is 

132 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedms 

just trying to secure a second donation, ^Hvbe^ Sir 
Toby, Sir Andrew, and Fabian arrive. EAggeJ on 
by his companions, and thinking he is deahAigwith 
the cowardly page. Sir Andrew swaggers up and 
strikes Sebastian. But instead of the passive antago- 
nist he expects, he suddenly finds himself attacked by 
an enraged man, who deems all Illyrians mad. 

While the Clown rushes ofl in terror to summon 
his mistress. Sir Andrew, whose courage has evapo- 
rated at the first blow, vainly tries with Sir Toby's 
help to patch up the quarrel. But Sebastian indig- 
nantly refuses to overlook the insult received, so 
Sir Toby, dreading the outcome of his encounter 
with Sir Andrew, challenges him himself. 

They are about to fight when Olivia rushes in, 
reproving her kinsman, and offering lavish apologies 
to the supposed page. While the three conspirators 
vanish, Olivia talks to Sebastian, whom she begs to 
follow her into the house, where she will give an 
explanation and make amends for the insult he has 
received. Her sudden appearance, kindly invitation, 
and familiar address, greatly bewilder Sebastian, 
who is, nevertheless, so charmed by her beauty that 
he exclaims, * If it be thus to dream, still let me 
sleep ! ' as he wonderingly follows her into the 

In a room in Olivia's dweUing, the Maid is next 
seen dressing the Clown to personate a priest, al- 
though he ruefully declares he is not learned enough 
to play such a part with success. His disguise com- 
pleted, Sir Toby joins them, and bids the Clown 
knock at the door of Malvolio's cell, informing iixa 

Twelfth Night; or, What You Will 133 

In loud tones that he is the priest. From behind 
the door the lamentable voice of the steward now 
begs the priest's intercession, protesting he should 
not be locked up in the dark, as he is not mad. 
Schooled for his part, the Clown declares Mal- 
volio must be insane, seeing the place is flooded with 
light, and wittily defeats him with his own argu- 
ments when he tries to reason through the door. 

While he is doing this, Sir Toby and the Maid 
go out together, whereupon, seeing himself alone, the 
Clown suddenly changes his tone and, being recog- 
nised by Malvolio, consents to get him paper and ink 
so he can communicate with his mistress. But, be- 
fore doing so, the Clown impishly teases Malvolio 
by pretending to doubt his sanity. 

The next scene is played in Olivia's garden, where 
Sebastian gazes around him, wondering how it hap- 
pens the Countess should have treated him with such 
kindness. He is further mystified by her donation 
of a ring, and by Antonio's absence from the inn. 
Although under the impression he is under some 
delusion, Sebastian ardently hopes that Olivia may 
be real, as he has fallen desperately in love with her. 
When she appears, therefore, accompanied by a 
priest, begging him follow her to the altar, where 
the vows they have just secretly exchanged can be 
duly confirmed, he enthusiastically cries, * Lead the 
way, good father; and heavens so shine, that they 
may fairly note this act of mine ! " 

Act V. The fifth act opens before Olivia's house, 
where the Clown and Fabian are conversing, the 
latter vainly trying to obtain a glimpse of the let- 

134 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

ter Malvolio has written. They are interrupted by 
the arrival of the Duke, who, after discovering that 
they belong to 01ivia*s household, shows great con- 
descension, rewarding the Clown's witty remarks 
with a gold coin. This tip calls forth new wit- 
ticisms and a second donation ensues, but the Duke 
warily refuses to be tricked into a third unless the 
Clown bring his mistress. 

It is at this moment Antonio is brought before 
him by the police, only to be recognised by Cesario 
as the very man who recently rescued him from 
peril, — ^meaning, of course, that Antonio saved him 
from Sir Andrew's sword. Gazing fixedly at the 
captive, the Duke recognises in him the seaman who 
once boarded his galley, and is about to vent his 
anger upon him, when his page intercedes. Ad- 
dressing Antonio more temperately, therefore, the 
Duke bids him explain, thus learning that, although 
Antonio did fight against him on one occasion, he 
is no pirate, but a seaman who has come to II* 
lyria out of devotion to the ungrateful lad standing 
beside him, in whose company he has been night 
and day for the past three rrionths ! 

Such a statement amazes the Duke, who replies 
that his page, having been constantly with him, the 
seaman's declaration is palpably false. But, before 
he can investigate the matter further, Olivia ap- 
pears, and, after greeting him, turns to Cesario, re- 
proaching him passionately for not keeping his prom- 
ises. These reproaches astonish master and page, 
until the Duke, fancying that Cesario has tried to 
supplant him, becomes so irate that he mutters, * I'll 

Twelfth Night; or, What You Will 135 

sacrifice the lamb that I do love,' a threat which has 
no terror for the p^e, but which almost paralyses 


But, when Cesario swears he will gladly follow 
the one he loves more than he can ere love wife, 
Olivia becomes so incensed, that she reveals her 
secret betrothal to the page, which he indignantly de- 
nies. Seeing the priest draw near who heard their 
vows, Olivia charges him to make the truth known, 
whereupon he duly admits having plighted the couple 
l>€fore him two hours ago. 

While the Duke is angrily reproaching his pro- 
testing page for such treachery, Sir Andrew rushes 
Jn clamouring for a surgeon for Sir Toby, who has 
teen grievously wounded by Cesario. This new ac- 
cusation the Duke declares cannot be true, seeing his 
page has remained quietly beside him, although Sir 
Andrew reviles the lad for injuring his friend. The 
page truthfully denies ever hurting any one; yet, 
thinking Sir Andrew refers to the duel, tries to 

explain how he was compelled to fight against his 

It is at this moment that Sir Toby is brought in by 
the Clown, clamouring for a surgeon. In reply to 
the Duke's questions, he tries to describe how his 
^ound was received, but is too drunk to do so intel- 
hgcntly. Seeing his predicament, Olivia soon orders 
"^01 ofi, so Sir Toby, Sir Andrew, and Fabian leave 
Ae stage with the Clown. 

They have barely departed when Sebastian rushes 
^^y apologising profusely for injuring Olivia's kins- 
**^> who unaccountably attacked him, and asking 

136 Stories of Shakespeare^ s Comedies 

why his lady-love gazes so coldly upon him? The 
appearance of Sebastian,- — an exact counterpart of 
the page in face, voice, and apparel, — startles all 
present, and while the Duke comments softly upon it, 
Sebastian suddenly falls upon Antonio's neck, vowing 
he has endured much anxiety in his behalf. Staring 
at the two youths so exactly alike, the sailor ex- 
presses a surprise, shared by Olivia and by all the 
rest. Discovering his counterpart in his turn, Se- 
bastian exclaims that while he once had a sister just 
like him, he knows she is drowned. Then he be- 
gins questioning the page, who admits that his 
father and brother both bore the name of Sebastian, 
and that the latter must be resting in a watery tomb, 
— for Viola feels convinced it is her brother's ghost 
she sees. After she has given irrefutable proofs of 
her identity, Sebastian embraces her, exclaiming 
this is his beloved sister Viola, and obliges her to 
admit that she donned male apparel to serve the 
Duke. When she adds that while in his service she 
often visited Olivia in his behalf, the Countess' mis- 
take is explained, and Sebastian informs his betrothed 
that whereas she might have been pledged to a maid, 
she is now irrevocably bound to a man! 

Although the Duke fancied he could never forget 
Olivia, he suddenly finds himself less inconsolable 
than he deemed possible, and turning to his page, 
eagerly inquires whether he told the truth when he 
declared he would never love any one as fervently 
as he loved his master. Unable to deny this im- 
peachment, Viola is told to resume her former garb 
a command she promises toixbey as soon as Malvolio, 

Twelfth Night; or, What You Will 137 

ivho has seized her wardrobe in her absence, can 
make restitution. 

Not at all sorry to exchange Cesario for his more 
virile counterpart, Olivia calls for her steward, 
Mrhereupon the Clown, rushing forward, delivers his 
letter. In this missive Malvolio accuses his mis- 
tress of making him behave in unseemly fashion, be- 
fore imploring her to set him free ; it is so sane, how- 
ever, that Olivia orders him liberated, ere, turning 
to the Duke, she welcomes him as brother, he having, 
meantime, decided to marry Viola, for whom he felt 
such tender affection when deeming her only a page. 
He also decrees that both weddings shall take place 
in his palace, whither all are invited to join in the 
festivities. Then, turning to Viola, the Duke dis- 
niisses her forever as page, and warmly welcomes 
"Cr as a sweetheart, just as Fabian produces Mal- 
volio. On being questioned, the indignant steward 
^^xhibits the letter responsible for his offensive be- 
haviour, and when Olivia denies writing it, Fabian 
admits it was penned by her maid, adding that Sir 
^oby has just married this woman to reward her 
f^r playing so amusing a trick. 

When the Clown slyly adds * some are born great, 
^nie achieve greatness, and some have greatness 
thrust upon them,' Malvolio, failing to see any 
*^Umour in such a remark, stalks off the scene, mut- 
tering wrathfuUy, * FU be revenged on the whole 
Pack of you ! ' After Olivia has acknowledged that 
Malvolio has some ground for resentment, the Duke 
"€gs his followers hasten after to appease him, ere 
«e bids Viola follow him back to the palace, where, 

138 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

having donned suitable garments, she will become 
' Orsino's mistress and his fanqr's queen.' 

All the rest having left the stage, the Clown sings 
a ridiculous song as epilogue, wherein occurs the 
platitude that *A great while ago the world b^ 
gan,' but that in spite of all that ' the play is now 


4cT I. This play opens in the palace of the 
ike of Ephesus, while he is giving audience to a 
acusan merchant, who has come to this city not 
•wing a recent ordinance condemns all his coun- 
3ien to death. A fine of a thousand marks be- 
the only alternative, the prisoner despairs of be- 
able to raise it among strangers, and exclaims 
Woes will end * with the evening sun ! ' 
^his philosophical remark amazes the Duke, who 
lires what the Syracusan's life has been, seeing 
seems glad to lose it? In reply, iEgeon states 
■9 born and married in Syracuse, he removed to 
damnum, where his wife gave birth to twin sons, 
the same day that a slave woman was similarly 
scd. The merchant's sons proving so exactly 
c that no one could tell them apart, he gladly 
ired as attendants for them the twin children 
this slave, because they, too, were exact counter- 

Shortly after making this purchase, the merchant, 
wife, and the four small children set out for 
ne, only to be overtaken by a tempest, during 
ich the crew deserted them on a dismantled ship, 
reed to provide for the safety of his helpless fam- 
> the merchant bound his younger son and slave 
a mast with his wife, attaching himself to another 


140 Stories of Shakespeare^ s Comeaiies 

with the two elder children, just before the vessel 
broke up. Although they now drifted apart, iEgeon 
saw his wife and the children with her rescued, ere 
he was swept away to be saved later by another 
ship, which brought him to Syracuse. 

Notwithstanding constant efforts since then to dis- 
cover traces of wife and missing children, the 
merchant has heard nothing of them. When 
eighteen, his sole remaining son insisted upon going 
in search of them, accompanied by his servant, equally 
anxious to find a twin. Receiving no tidings of 
these travellers, iEgeon followed them two years 
later, and, after vainly journeying about five years, 
landed in Ephesus, convinced of the loss of all he 
held dear ! 

Touched by iEgeon's sad story, the Duke says he 
would gladly free him, did not the law forbid ; all he 
can do is to allow the Syracusan to scour the city in 
company of an officer, in hopes of raising the sum 
necessary to save his life. 

In the next scene Antipholus, eldest son of the 
Syracusan merchant, just landed in Ephesus with 
his attendant Dromio, is met by a local tradesman, 
who charitably warns him not to reveal his birth- 
place, lest he, too, forfeit his life like the traveller 
to be executed at sunset. Instead, he bids the young 
Syracusan state he came from Epidamnimi, advice 
which Antipholus gratefully promises to follow. 
Then, turning to his servant, he bids him go to the 
inn, entrusting to his keeping all his fortune, and 
promising to join him there when he has viewed 
the town. 

The Comedy of Errors 141 

Bearing off his master's funds, Dromio hints that 
other would decamp with them, words his master 
plains to the benevolent merchant by stating his 
rnan often beguiles his low spirits by similar jests. 
In reply to Antipholus' invitation to dine with him, 
the merchant urges a previous engagement, promis- 
ing, however, to spend the evening with him instead. 
The merchant having gone, the Syracusan mourn- 
fully comments on not being able to find his missing 
brother, saying, * I to the world am like a drop of 
vvater that in the ocean seeks another drop ! ' 

While standing on the market place, he is ap- 
proached by a man, so similar in appearance to his 
own servant Dromio that he naturally mistakes him 
for his slave. This is, however, the sedond slave, — 
also called Dromio, — who has lived with his master 
in Ephesus for many years. When the Syracusan 
naaster hails the Ephesian servant, asking why he 
has returned, this man, mistaking him for his em- 
ployer, volubly bids him hurry home to dinner, for 
his mistress impatiently awaits his return. 

Deeming this part of the fooling in which his 
^rvant indulges to divert him, the Syracusan, who 
|s in no playful mood, bids him desist, and explain 
instead how he disposed of the money entrusted to 
Wm. Imagining his master refers to a sixpence 
given to pay a bill, the Ephesian servant vows he 
has delivered it to the sadler, — z. statement the 
Syracusan regards as humorous evasion. But when 
the servant repeats he should hurry home to his wait- 
ing wife, Antipholus becomes so indignant that, 
^though Dromio ruefully asserts his mistress has al- 

142 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

ready beaten him, he receives a second chastisement. 
To avoid further blows poor Dromio now runs 
away, while the Syracusan mutters he will have to 
hasten to the inn to make sure his money is safe. 

Act II. The second act opens in the house of 
Antipholus, the Ephesian, who bears the self-same 
name as his brother, just as his servant bears that of 
the Syracusan slave. For some time past the Ephesian 
has dwelt in this house with his wife, a wealthy 
woman called Adriana. Conversing with her sister, 
this lady impatiently wonders why her husband 
doesn't return, and what has become of the servant 
sent to get him? Her sister, Luciana, urges some 
merchant may have invited her brother-in-law to 
dinner, adding, to comfort the fretting wife, that 
men must be allowed some latitude. 

When Adriana tartly inquires whether that is the 
reason why she has hitherto declined to marry, Lu- 
ciana retorts that she will never do so until she has 
learned to be patient with a man's vagaries. Such 
statements, however, fail to appease Adriana, who 
bitterly remarks it is easy enough to be patient in 
regard to the shortcomings of some one else's hus- 

They are still arguing when Dromio returns. 
Asked whether he has delivered his message, and 
why his master doesn't appear, the servant ruefully 
describes how he was received, vowing his master 
spoke of nothing but gold, rudely exclaiming when 
he mentioned his mistress — ' I know not thy mistress; 
out on thy mistress ! ' On learning that she has 
thus been denied, Adriana, feeling sure her husband 

The Comedy of Errors 143 

must be in love with some one else, orders her 
servant to bring him home immediately, under pen- 
alty of a whipping. 

The Ephesian Dromio has barely gone, when Lu- 
ciana tells her sister that if she allows angry passions 
to distort her features, she will soon become homely, 
only to hear that it is impossible to refrain from 
wger and jealousy under such circumstances as 
these. Adriana then adds she would gladly forfeit 
the golden chain her husband promised her, were 
he only safe at home, showing such grief that she 
leaves the room weeping, while her sister comments 
upon the folly of jealousy. 

We are next transferred to the market place, 
whither the Syracusan has returned, after ascertain- 
ing his money is safe at the inn. His servant not 
having been found there, he wonders where Dromio 
roay be, when he suddenly sees him draw near. 
Sternly inquiring whether he has come to his senses, 
Antipholus, in spite of the man's evident surprise, 
reproaches him for pretending a while ago that 
his wife ^yanted him to hasten home to dinner. But 
Ae man truthfully denies all this, vowing he has 
not seen his master since he left him to carry the 
sold to the inn. In his anger at what seems wanton 
evasion, Antipholus beats Dromio, saying that, al- 
^ough he occasionally condescends to jest with him, 
ne refuses to be mocked in serious moments. 

The misunderstanding between master and man 
continues, neither suspecting there are in this town 
^0 masters and two servants, bearing the same 
'^^es and looking exactly alike. Thev are still dis- 

144 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

puting when Adriana and her sister burst upon the 
scene. Taking the Syracusan for her husband, Adri- 
ana, calling him by name, hotly reproaches him for 
not coming home on time, and for publicly denying 
her existence. In her jealousy, she accuses him of 
forgetting her for the sake of some other fair dame, 
— a reproach which amazes the Syracusan, who 
gravely assures her that never having seen her be- 
fore, and having been in Ephesus only two hours, he 
doesn't understand what she means. 

Such a statement, — considering his exact resem- 
blance to the Ephesian Antipholus, — causes Luciana 
indignantly to exclaim that he should treat his wife 
with more respect! On hearing that Dromio,— 
whom, of course, he deems his servant, — was sent 
to summon him home, only to be ill-treated, Anti- 
pholus is nonplussed. He, therefore, questions the 
man, who truthfully denies ever having seen Adri- 
ana, a statement she and Antipholus refuse to credit, 
the latter on account of the message brought a while 

Sure now that both husband and slave are in 
league against her, but determined not to lose sight 
of them again, Adriana exclaims, * Come, I will 
fasten on this sleeve of thine: thou art an elm, my 
husband, I a vine,' using such eloquence and deter- 
mination that the Syracusan, fancying there must 
be some truth in her statement, and that he married 
her in a dream, prepares to yield. 

When Luciana bids Dromio hurry home, he 
crosses himself, wildly muttering that witchcraft 
is at work, and it is only after his master has cer- 

"•dy of Eirori. Acli, Sui 

The Comedy of Errors 145 

that he still bears his wonted form, that he 
ure he has not been transformed into some 
I creature. The persistent Adriana now leads 
lolus home, charging Dromio to mount guard 
door, and not admit any one, hinting that he 
3ne for previous misconduct by implicitly car- 
)ut these orders. It is in a state of bewilder- 
:hat the Syracusan accompanies his wife and 
n-law, while his servant decides to obey or- 
id play porter. 

III. The Syracusan Dromio is behind the 
when the Ephesian master arrives with his 
t and a couple of merchants whom he has 

to dinner. After explaining that they must 
—his wife being irritable when he is not 
al, — ^the Ephesian begs one of the guests ex- 

Adriana that the delay occurred because he 
► anxious to bring her the promised golden 
which can be ready only on the morrow. He 
eproaches Dromio for saying he has already 
him twice; whereupon his man ruefully cries 
^ere his skin parchment and the blows re- 
ink, he could prove by his master's own hand- 

1 the truth of his words. Not guilty of hav- 
aten Dromio, the Ephesian resents this ac- 
n, and knocks loudly on his door, 

sad of admittance, he and his servant are 
at by the Dromio within, who, boldly giving 
ne, calls himself Antipholus* porter, stating 
larding the door while his master and mistress 
The conversation between the real master 
rvant without, with Dromio within, fairly 

146 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

bristles with misunderstandings, the noise they mak^ 
finally bringing maid and wife to inquire what i^ 
means ? 

Both women are so sure Antipholus and Dromic: 
are with them, that they indignantly refuse to ad- 
mit any one else. Thus locked out, master and 
man threaten to break in the door, desisting only 
when one of the merchants suggests such a proceed- 
ing would cause vulgar comment and cast a slur 
upon the Ephesian*s wife. In his anger, however, 
the husband swears he will punish Adriana, by 
dining at the inn with some courtesan, upon whom 
he will bestow the golden chain which he bids the 
goldsmith bring when he sups with him that even- 

The next scene is played in the Ephesian's house, 
where Luciana, left alone with the Syracusan, r^ 
proaches him for cold behaviour to his wife, telling 
him that, although he wed her sister for the sake 
of her fortune, he should atone for the anxiety she 
has just endured by a few caresses. Her gentle 
pleading fascinates the Syracusan, who, although 
not attracted by his brother's wife, is greatly 
charmed by her sister. Seeing he persists in com- 
plimenting and wooing her, Luciana, deeming it a 
mark of disrespect to her sister, refuses "to listen 
when he exclaims, * Thee will I love and with thee . 
lead my life: thou hast no husband yet nor I no 
wife.' Instead, she volunteers to fetch Adriana, so 
they can make friends. 

It is while Antipholus is awaiting Luciana's r^ 
turn, that Dromio runs in, dismayed at being called 

The Comedy of Errors 147 

^visband by the cook, of whom he gives an unflatter- 
^'^g description in reply to his master *s questions, 
^oth master and man, mystified at being claimed as 
Wsbands by ladies who have no attractions for them, 
Conclude they are victims of some witchcraft, and 
that they had better leave Ephesus as soon as pos- 
sible. The master, therefore, bids his servant hurry 
down to the shore, and put their luggage on board a 
vessel ready to sail — a command which the servant 
gladly obeys, saying, * As from a bear a man would 
run for life, so fly I from her that would be my wife.' 
His servant having gone, the Syracusan vows he, 
too, would fain flee from the wife claiming him, al- 
though he is so deeply enamoured with her sister, 
that he has to defend himself against her charms as 
from a mermaid's song. It is while he is alone that 
the goldsmith enters, calling him by name, and de- 
livers the golden chain. Amazed at receiving such 
a gift, the Syracusan asks what he is to do with it, 
whereupon the goldsmith states he ordered it, and 
departs, adding he can pay for it at supper. The 
Syracusan wonders over this episode, and over the 
many strange happenings of the day, ere deciding to 
hasten to the market-place, where his servant will 
meet him as soon as he has made arrangements to 

Act IV. The fourth act opens on the public 
square, where a merchant accosts the goldsmith, 
claiming the immediate payment of a debt, as he 
wishes to leave that day. Although. not denying the 
debt, the goldsmith does not at present possess the 
necessary sum, but says he can easily obtain it from 

148 Stories of Shakespeare^ s Comedies 

Antipholus, who owes him such an amount for ^ 
golden chain. He, therefore, volunteers to go ir^ 
quest of this customer, accompanied by the merchant ^ 
who does not wish to lose sight of him until th^ 
money is paid. 

These two soon perceive the Ephesian and his 
servant returning from the inn, and overhear the 
master state he is on his way to the goldsmith's, bid- 
ding his servant go and purchase a rope's end, with 
which to beat the saucy servant who locked them 
out that noon. The Ephesian Dromio has just de- 
parted on this errand, slyly hoping to wield the rope 
himself, when . Antipholus accosts the goldsmith, re- 
proaching him for not having brought to the inn the 
golden chain. Unable to understand such a re- 
proach, after having himself placed it in Antipholus' 
hand, the goldsmith demands the immediate payment 
of his bill, so he can rid himself of the merchant's 

Instead of dispensing the expected sum, the 
Ephesian bids the goldsmith claim the money from 
his wife in exchange for his chain, although the dis- 
tracted artist insists he has already delivered it. 
When the Ephesian denies it, he incurs the contempt 
of both his interlocutors, and contradictory stat^ 
ments result in a quarrel, wherein the merchant 
finally calls for an officer to arrest the goldsmith— 
an insult the latter immediately avenges by having 
Antipholus taken into custody, too. 

The double arrest has just occurred when the 
Syracusan servant returns from the port. Not 
knowing there is another man in town just like his 

The Comedy of Errors 149 

master, this Dromio hastens up to the Ephesian to 
report that they can sail immediately; but whereas 
he expects praise for diligence, he is hailed as a mad- 
man, the Ephesian hotly denying having sent him c^ 
any other errand save to purchase a rope. Not al- 
lowed to pause long enough to sift this matter to 
the bottom, the Ephesian, led off by the officer, calls 
to Dromio to hurry home for the purse of ducats in 
his desk which will purchase his release. 

Left alone on the square, desk key in hand, Dro- 
mio debates whether he dare return to the house 
where the fat cook claims him as husband, but after 
some cogitation, decides ' servants must their mas- 
ters' mind fulfil,' and hurries off in quest of the 
money to free the Ephesian. 

The next scene is played in the house, where the 
two women are talking, the wife insisting upon 
hearing every word her supposed husband said to 
Luciana, who vainly tries to soften the fact that 
Antipholus denied ever having been married, and 
made desperate love to her. In her attempt to in- 
<iuce the unfortunate Adriana to overlook her hus- 
fjand's shortcomings, Luciana, hearing her decry him, 
exclaims such a husband is no loss, whereupon the 
wife — however willing to censure him herself, — de- 
fends Antipholus vehemently, saying, * My heart 
prays for him, though my tongue do curse ! * 

Their conversation is interrupted by the arrival 
of the breathless Dromio, bringing the key and de- 
nianding the money to free his master, — arrested, 
flc knows not on what charge. While Luciana hast- 
ens ofl to procure the ducats, the wife, questioning 


150 Stories of Shakespeare's CSiftnedies 

the servant, learns that something ha» been said 
about a chain. She has not, however, \to able 
to discover any more, when her sister returns with 
the money, and Dromio hurries off to free the pris- 
oner he takes for his master. 

The curtain next rises on a public square, where 
the Syracusan wonders because almost every man he 
meets calls him by name, invites him, or offers to sell 
him some commodity* When his servant runs up, 
delivering the Ephesian's gold, the master wonder- 
ingly inquires what it means, and thinks his man 
must be distracted when he reports seeing him a 
while ago in custody of an officer. Charitably con- 
cluding they are both suffering from delusions from 
which they will be freed only when they have left 
Ephesus, Antipholus prepares to depart. But, be- 
fore he can do so, the courtesan, with whom his twin 
brother has been dining, rushes up demanding the 
chain he wears around his neck, which was to have 
been given her in exchange for her ring. When the 
Syracusan gravely denies having dined with her, 
received a ring, or promised her a chain, — fearing 
lest she may receive no equivalent for her token,— the 
courtesan gives vent to such anger that master an^ 
man flee. 

Left alone in the square, the irate courtesan de 
cides that Antipholus must be mad, else how coulc 
he deny dining with her. Besides, she remember 
that the story he told of his exclusion from hem' 
sounded suspicious. She, therefore, determines t 
claim the promised chain from Antipholus' wife 
telling her that her husband, in a fit of mental abei 



The Comedy of Errors 151 

J^tion, rushed into her house and bore off her prop- 

We next see the Ephesian walking along the street 
^ith his guard, promising not to escape, but soon to 
satisfy all claims with the money his servant will 
luring. He accounts for the delay by stating his wife 
lias been in a wayward mood lately, and seeing a 
Dromio appear, naturally deems him the servant 
^t sent in quest of the ducats, as well as to purchase 

When the Ephesian master demands his money, 
the man replies there was no change, and delivers 
Ws purchase. Thereupon numerous questions, a 
beating, and considerable abuse ensue, — the servant 
truthfully insisting he has never been sent for money, 
hut for a rope. It is just at the end of this mis- 
understanding that the Ephesian's wife, her sister, 
the courtesan, and a physician appear upon the 
square. The women are bringing this doctor in 
hopes he can perform some conjuring tricks, whereby 
Antipholus will be freed from the evil spirit which 
'uakes him deny his wife and bestow gifts upon 

On perceiving the excitement to which the Ephe- 
*an is a prey, they naturally conclude it is a symp- 
om of insanity — a conviction heightened by his 
triking the physician, who tries to feel his pulse! 
inding this patient possessed by so evil a spirit, 
le physician begins his conjuring, only to be rudely 
lenced by the Ephesian, who accuses him of abet- 
ng his wife in locking him out of his house. This 
atement causes Adriana to exclaim her husband 

152 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

must be mad indeed, seeing he dined at home, — ^ap- 
pealing to her servant and to Luciana to confirm her^ 
words. But, whereas the servant readily testifies 
he and his master were locked out, Luciana vows 
both were at home, one dining, the other acting as 

As Adriana goes on to explain that she has just 
given Dromio the required bag of gold, the man in- 
dignantly denies it, protesting he has not been back 
to the house, and thereby increasing the confusion. 
In his anger, the Ephesian now shows such violence 
that Adriana signals to men lurking in the back- 
ground, who rush forward and bind him fast, to 
prevent his doing himself any harm. 

It is while the Ephesian Antipholus is being thus 
secured that the officer refuses to give him up, un- 
less paid for the chain, — ^money which Adriana 
is ready to disburse. Meantime, the courtesan 
clamours that this chain was to have been given to 
her in exchange for the ring on Antipholus' finger. 

While the Ephesian is led away bound by doctor 
and attendants, his wife, the courtesan, and officer 
discuss this affair, until the Syracusan suddenly 
dashes past them with drawn sword, closely foUoweo 
by his servant. Owing to the resemblance between 
masters and men, Adriana thinks her husband has 
become a raving maniac, and flees screaming, her ac- 
tions causing the fugitives to pause and recognise her. 
Deciding it best not to remain in a town where they 
are likely to be claimed as husbands by women 
whom they do not affect, both long to depart. 

Act V. The fifth act opens in a street before a 

The Comedy of Errors 153 

Priory, where the merchant and goldsmith are con- 
versing, the latter apologising for keeping the former 
waiting for his money, saying it is strange An- 
tipholus should deny receiving the chain, as he has 
hitherto enjoyed an enviable reputation for hon- 

They are interrupted by the appearance of the 
Syracusan Antipholus and his servant, the former 
wearing the chain in question round his neck. As 
this seems insult added to injury, the goldsmith hotly 
reproaches his supposed patron for denying having 
received his wares — z. denial the Syracusan refutes, 
although the merchant asserts he overheard it. 

To be accused of such baseness so irritates the 
Syracusan that he challenges the merchant, with 
whom he is just beginning to fight, when Adriana, 
her sister, and the courtesan rush upon the scene, 
the frantic wife imploring the merchant to spare her 
wad husband, and calling upon her followers to 
bind fast master and man, and take them home. 
Terrified at the prospect of such a fate, the Syra- 
<^^n servant hastily advises his master to seek 
sanctuary with him in the Priory, into which both 
nish, and from whence the Abbess soon emerges to 
forbid further pursuit. 

When Adriana tearfully explains that they have 
come in quest of her maniac husband, — ^whom the 
goldsmith acknowledges not to be in his right mind, 
^d whom the merchant regrets having challenged, — 
the Abbess demands how his insanity revealed it- 
self? The unhappy wife then states that, although 
Antipholus has met with neither loss nor sorrow, his 

154 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

frequent absences from home have caused her anx^, 
ety. Her answers to the Abbess' questions ss^ 
plainly reveal her jealous recriminations have been 
almost incessant, that the holy woman soon pitifully 
declares a wife's jealousy has driven Antipholus mad! 
She, therefore, refuses to let Adriana see her hus- 
band, declaring that, because he has taken refuge 
with her, she will defend him, making use of her 
skill to restore his health and mind. Then, notwith- 
standing Adriana's recriminations, she vanishes 
within the Priory gates. 

The Abbess having gone, wife, sister, goldsmith, | 
and merchant decide to petition the Duke to inter- 
fere in their behalf. The merchant avers they can 
easily do so, since the Duke is due here within the 
next few minutes, to witness the execution of the 
old Syracusan merchant, who has been unable to raise ; 
the required fine. All, therefore, decide to linger 
in this neighbourhood until the Duke arrives, when 
they intend to fall at his feet and beseech his aid. 

A moment later the Duke appears with his train, 
and the heralds proclaim the prisoner must die un- 
less his fine be paid. Rushing forward, Adriana 
falls at the Duke's feet, hysterically demanding 
justice against the Abbess, — a request which amazes i 
him, as a lady of such holy repute cannot have done 
wrong. But, on hearing Adriana explain what has 
happened, the Duke, who is deeply attached to An- 
tipholus, immediately promises to investigate the ^ 

It is at this juncture that a servant rushes in, 
calling to Adriana to save herself, and reporting that 

The Comedy of Errors 155 

^^ster and man, exasperated by the doctor's treat- 
ment, have broken bounds and are at large. That 
^^ no news to Adriana, who, therefore, treats the 
^^^lan with contempt. But a great hue and cry in- 
duces the Duke to call upon his guards to protect 
the women, and, glancing down the street, Adriana 
IS amazed to behold the husband, whom she thought 
in the Priory, but whence he has since doubtless 
escaped by magic arts. Rushing forward, the Ephe- 
sian and his man implore the Duke to protect them, 
just as the prisoner exclaims that, unless the fear of 
death has dazed his mind, he beholds his missing son, 
Antipholus, and servant, Dromio. 

The Ephesian, who has no recollection of his 
father's face, fails, of course, to recognise the pris- 
oner, to whom he pays no heed, entering instead a 
formal complaint against his wife, who has closed his 
doors upon him, and revelled during his absence. 
These accusations Adriana and Luciana hotly deny, 
insisting that he dined in private with them. The 
Ephesian now angrily adds he is accused of receiving 
a chain never delivered to him, summoned to pay 
for what he has not received, and arrested and 
treated like a madman, because he will not yield to 
the vagaries of those around him. Hearing this, the 
Duke cross-questions the goldsmith, who confirms 
Antipholus' statement that he was locked out of 
home, but insists he gave him the chain he saw a mo- 
ment agp upon his neck. The merchant also vows 
he saw the chain; and, unable to restrain his curi- 
osity, inquires how Antipholus escaped from sanctu- 
ary? When the Ephesian testily denies ever having 

156 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

been within the Priory walls, as well as all knowl- 
edge of the chain, — which the courtesan claims, — 
the Duke comes to the conclusion that all present 
are mad, for none of his questions elicit the truth. 

He has just sent a servant to summon the Ab- 
bess, — by whose aid he hopes to solve the mystery, — 
when the prisoner, stepping forward, announces that, 
his son being there to pay his ransom, he can now 
be liberated immediately. Allowed to explain, 
iEgeon asks Antipholus whether such is not his name, 
and whether his servant is not Dromio ; but, although 
the Ephesian admits such is the case, he denies ever 
having seen the prisoner, who concludes grief has 
made him unrecognisable. In his despair, ^geon 
appeals to the servant, who, like his master, denies 
all knowledge of him, and confirms Antipholus' state- 
ment that his father was lost at sea. When the 
prisoner states that Antipholus lived with him in 
Syracuse for eighteen years, the Duke himself con- 
tradicts him, as he has known the Ephesian all his 
life. Then, imagining the old man must be doting, 
he is just bidding him cease advancng foolish claims, 
when the Abbess appears, followed by the Syracusan 
Antipholus and his servant. 

Advancing with dignity, the Abbess begs to place 
under ducal protection a wronged man, and all 
present start with amazement when they behold two 
masters and two servants so exactly alike that none 
can tell them apart! All present express surprise, 
Adriana thinking she sees two husbands, and the 
Duke wondering which is the mortal man and which 
the spirit^ as it doesn't seem possible two human 

The Comedy of Errors 157 

beings could be such exact counterparts. Startled 
at coming face to face, the two Dromios, in sudden 
terror, implore the Duke to send the other man 
away, each claiming he is the only genuine bearer of 
the name. 

Meantime, the Syracusan has no sooner caught a 
sight of the prisoner, than he joyfully embraces him 
as father, a recognition his man confirms. To every- 
body's surprise, the Abbess also announces he is her 
long-lost husband ^geon, relating how, after she, 
one son, and one slave were rescued, the children 
Were taken from her by cruel pirates, leaving her 
so bereft that she entered a nunnery, where she has 
dwelt ever since. 

This explanation reveals to the Duke that there 
^e now two Antipholuses in Ephesus, as well as two 
Dromios; so, to avoid further confusion, he bids 
l^asters and servants stand far apart. Little by little 
^f then becomes clear how the Syracusan and his 
servant came to town and dined by mistake with 
^e Ephesian lady, who has been claiming her 
'^fother-in-law as husband. The goldsmith admits 
^at the chain he fancied having given to the Ephe- 
sian, was, on the contrary, delivered to the Syra- 
^Usan, who, never having ordered it, could not be 
*^eld responsible for its payment. 

When the Syracusan produces the bag of ducats 
l>rought by his servant, saying he cannot imagine 
Whence they came, nor why they were given him, the 
l^phesian joyfully claims his property, and offers to 
Pay for his father's release, — ^wliich is no longer 
necessary, as the Duke has pardoned him* Last of 

158 Stories of Shakespeare* s Comedies 

all, the courtesan claims her ring, which the Ephe- 
sian cheerfully returns, having borrowed it merely 
to tease his wife. 

These points being settled, the Abbess invites 
all present to the Priory, where she intends to cele- 
brate the joyful reunion of parents, sons, and serv- 
ants. All, therefore, follow her, save the two An- 
tipholuses and Dromios, whose resemblance is such 
that, owing to a slight shifting of position, the Syra- 
cusan servant again addresses his master's brother by 
mistake, offering to remove his luggage from the 
ship in which he was about to sail. For a moment 
the Ephesian master is again deceived, but his error 
is soon rectified by his brother, and the twin mas- 
ters leave the scene together, leaving the two 
Dromios face to face. 

While the Syracusan servant openly congratulates 
himself on being brother-in-law and not husband to 
the objectionable cook, his brother is pleased to find 
himself as good-looking as this fraternal reflection 
proves. But not being able to determine who is the 
elder, and hence entitled to precedence, the Dromios 
leave the stage arm in arm, exclaiming, 'We came 
into the world like brother and brother; and now 
let's go hand in hand, not one before another.' 


•^Ct I. This play opens in a square in Verona, 
w^here Valentine, talking to his friend Pjotetls, an- 
'^ounces he is about to depart forR/Iifen^ where he 
^Quld fain have his friend acprtfpany him were not 
^c latter Love's slave. AltKough it is impossible for 
"^^ to leave Verona, Proteus ironically promises to 
Pi'ay for his friend, who retorts a lover's risks are 
^ great as those of travellers. 

After Valentine has gone, promising to let his 
*J"iend hear from him, Proteus avers that, whereas 
Valentine is evidently hunting for honours, he is 
wholly absorbed in his passion for Julia, who has 
^ade him forget everything else. His soliloquy is 
interrupted by the arrival of Valentine's servant, in- 
^^iring for his master. Before answering, Proteus 
^^ies to find out from this man, — ^whom he had em- 
ployed as messenger to Julia, — ^whether he has de- 
livered his letter, rewarding him for his witty re- 
'^arks by a tip. But, the servant gone, Proteus be- 
&ns to doubt whether his missive were delivered, 
^^d concludes to send another messenger to make 
^^re that Julia doesn't remain without news. 

We next behold Julia's garden, where she is in- 
^^Tviewing her maid, Lucetta, of whom she takes 
^dvice in her love affairs. After her mistress has 
^numerated her various suitors, Lucetta comments 


i6o Stories of Shakespeare^ s Comedies 

upon each, shrewdly noticing, however, that Julia re- 
serves all mention of Proteus to the last. She, there- 
fore, gives a favourable verdict in regard to this 
swain, ere proffering the letter brought by Valen- 
tine's man. Having pretended indifference all 
along, Julia scornfully refuses to accept Proteus' 
letter, but no sooner has the maid carried it off than 
she longs to call her back, ruefully admitting that 
girls in love often act contrary to their feelings. 
She, therefore, summons Lucetta under some futile 
pretext, and when the maid ostentatiously drops the 
missive at her feet, angrily bids her cease annoying 
her. Then, as the servant, whose remarks ex- 
asperate her, is about to remove the offending paper, 
Julia suddenly snatches it and tears it to pieces, 
ordering Lucetta to leave the fragments on the 

Left alone, the fickle Julia bewails having torn 
her lover's letter, and, longing to discover what it 
contains, pieces the bits together. Although unable 
to restore it entirely, she discovers a few scraps bear- 
ing affectionate words, which she hides away in her 
bosom, ere Lucetta summons her to join her, father 
at dinner. In passing off the stage, Julia carelessly 
mentions the papers on the floor, knowing there is 
nothing more among them she cares to see. 

We are next transferred to Proteus' house, where, 
talking to a servant, his father learns people are 
wondering his son should linger at home while other 
youths of his age and station are sent abroad to 
study. Not wishing Proteus to lack advantages 
other young men enjoy, the father decides to send 

\Two Gentlemen of Verona i6i 

him off on the morrow to join Valentine, fancying 
that at the Milanese court his son will soon learn 
the accomplishments which will transform him into 
a graceful cavalier. 

It is at this moment that Proteus enters, poring 
over a letter he has just received from Julia in an- 
swer to his partly read epistle. But, when his 
father inquires what he is reading, Proteus men- 
daciously replies that he has heard from Valentine, 
now abroad. His father begging to see the letter, 
Proteus refuses to show it, volunteering instead that 
his friend is inviting him to come to Milan, too. 
Thereupon the father announces Proteus may 
go thither, and, although the youth tries to post- 
pone the moment of departure, insists upon his 
leaving the next day and hurries off with the 
servant to make preparations for the journey. 

Left alone, Proteus ifitterly regrets the vain false- 
hood which now parts him from his beloved Julia, 
but has little time to devote to remorse, as the 
servant soon returns, bidding him join his father. 

Act II. The second act opens in the palace in 
Milan, where Valentine is conversing with his 
servant, who, by mistake, hands him a glove be- 
longing to the Duke's daughter Silvia, with whom 
Valentine has meantime fallen in love. Having dis- 
covered his master's passion, the servant ably de- 
scribes love's symptoms, revealing plainly how he 
has watched his master stare at his lady-love. But 
when Valentine rapturously vows the lady's attrac- 
tions are such that no one can refrain from doing 
80, his man wittily avoids being entrapped into the 

1 62 Stories of Shakespeare^ s Comedies 

admission that she is the most beautiful person ^^ 

Next Valentine confides to his man that Sil«^'3 
has bidden him write lines addressed to one fc^^ 
loved — alines he has found difficult to compose. Jxx^t 
then Silvia enters, and w^hile Valentine greets her, 
his servant withdraws to the background, whence he 
slyly comments on all his master says and does. He 
thus overhears Valentine explain that, although he 
has composed the required poem, it fails to satisfy 
him, adding that, had he addressed one he loved, he 
could have displayed far more eloquence. 

After coolly glancing at the paper he proffers, Sil- 
via admits the lines are quaintly written, but soon 
after returns them, stating she would prefer some- 
thing more spontaneous, and suggests he write from 
his heart, since that will insure fluency. 

When Silvia has gone after this criticism, the 
servant remarks that the lady is teaching his mas- 
ter his duty, as she evidently expects him to write 
her a love-letter. But, however welcome, these 
tidings seem too incredible to Valentine, who dis- 
plays all the diffidence of the true lover. 

The next scene is played in Verona, in Julia's 
house, where Proteus is reluctantly bidding fare- 
well to his lady-love, promising to return from Milan 
as soon as possible, and exchanging keepsake rings 
with her. When she has left, Proteus dwells with 
intense satisfaction upon the emotion she has shown, 
and the tears choking her voice, — delightful 
memories over which he gloats until his father's 
servant summons him away. 

Two Gentlemen of Verona 1 63 

In the same town, but out in the street, Proteus* 
^Tvant is next seen giving vent to uncouth sorrow 
at parting from the various members of his family, 
whose farewells he describes. But, although every 
one else sheds plentiful tears at his going, he sor- 
rowfully remarks his dog remained stolid through- 
out the farewell scenes, which he reproduces in pan- 
tomime. At this point he is interrupted by a fel- 
low servant, who bids him hasten to join his mas- 
ter, vowing that they will otherwise miss the tide. 
In the course of their talk, these two men exchange 
puns and indulge in a war of wit, they two being 
the fun-makers in the play. 

The curtain next rises in the Duke's palace at 
Milan, where Silvia is talking to Valentine, al- 
though the fact that she does so enrages Sir Thurio, 
the suitor her father favours. Even Valentine's 
servant notices his irritation ere leaving the room, 
and, before many moments pass, the rival lovers be- 
gin twitting each other in the lady's presence. See- 
ing Sir Thurio finally change colour, Valentine pokes 
^n at him, but although he scores him, he never- 
theless manages at the same time to compliment Sil- 
via, whose favour he is anxious to win. 

This three-cornered, bitter-sweet conversation is 
interrupted by the arrival of the Duke, reporting 
^ews has just come from Valentine's father, an- 
nouncing Proteus' speedy arrival. On hearing his 
friend is on the way, Valentine praises him as a 
Planning and well-informed young man; his en- 
^miums becoming so enthusiastic that the Duke de- 
dares such a youth must be worthy of an empress' 

164 Stories of Shakespeare^ s Comedies 

affections. He therefore bids his daughter and Sir 
Thurio welcome him cordially ere leaving the room. 
Valentine then explains to Silvia that this is the 
gentleman whose love affairs have afforded her so 
much entertainment, before Proteus is ushered in 
and presented to her. She admits him to the circle 
of her followers, proving so gracious, that the youth, 
who has hitherto been wrapped up in his Julia, sud- 
denly forgets her, to fall madly in love with his 
friend's sweetheart. 

A summons from the Duke, forcing Silvia to 
leave the apartment with Sir Thurio, she bids Val- 
entire and Proteus use that opportunity to discuss 
home news, knowing they have a great deal to say 
to each other. Almost immediately Valentine con- 
fesses that, whereas his friend's talk of love once 
bored him, he now cares to converse on no other 
subject, having himself become victim to the tender 

When Proteus inquires who the object of his de- 
votion may be, Valentine not only admits he loves 
Silvia, but that he is so beloved by her in return, 
adding that, as the Duke refuses to countenance any 
suitor but Sir Thurio, they have decided to elope 
that very night. In reply to his friend's questions, 
Valentine explains how he is to climb to his lady's 
bower by means of a rope ladder, and bear her away. 
Then, having secured his friend's aid for the elope- 
ment, Valentine leaves the room; whereupon Proteus 
wonders that one love should so soon have driven the 
other out of his head, his passion of Julia having 
thawed ' like a waxen image 'gainst a fire,* until it 

Two Gentlemen of Verona 165 

now * bears no impression of the thing it was.' Be- 
cause he wishes to win Silvia himself, Proteus sud- 
denly determines, * If I can check my erring love, I 
will; if not, to compass her Til use my skill.' 

Meantime, in the streets of Milan, the servants 
of Valentine and Proteus meet, exchanging wel- 
comes, remarks, and comments on their masters' af- 
fairs. In the course of this conversation, the one 
confides that his master took sad leave of Julia, 
after exchanging rings with her, there having not 
been time to marry, while the other propounds co- 
nundrums and makes puns, both servants evidently 
deriving considerable entertainment from quizzing 
each other. 

The curtain again rises in the palace, where Pro- 
teus is still pondering how to supplant his friend in 
Silvia's affections. Although fully realising he will 
be foresworn should he forsake Julia and betray his 
fend, the temptation proves too strong to resist. 
After some specious reasoning, therefore, Proteus 
persuades himself that charity begins at home, and 
4at, as Silvia so far surpasses Julia in attractions, 
l^e must win her for his own. 

He, therefore, decides to reveal Valentine's plot to 
the Duke, knowing the latter will prove grateful for 
such a warning, and will speedily banish the un- 
welcome suitor in hopes of forcing his daughter to 
^cept Sir Thurio, a rival who appears far less 
^*ngerous than Valentine, and whom he can easily 

The next scene is played in Verona, in Julia's 
*^use, where, after calling Lucetta into council, 

1 66 Stories of Shakespeare^ s Comedies 

she bids her devise means whereby she can journey 
to Milan, to rejoin the lover whom she misses so 
sorely. Although the handmaiden offers sundry ob- 
jections, Julia declares she * hath Love's wings to 
fly,' vowing that, unless the journey be undertaken 
pretty soon, she will pine away for lack of her b^ 

As all objections only increase her ardour for the 
journey, the servant finally ceases to oppose Julia, 
and inquires what disguise she proposes to assume? 
Having determined on a page's garb, Julia discusses 
with her maid the cut and style of the costume she 
is to wear. But even so interesting a subject as 
this cannot long divert her attention from Proteus, 
whom she praises to the skies, mentioning his tears 
at the moment of parting as proof of his affection. 
The maid, however, does not consider tears con- 
vincing, for she merely remarks she hopes her mis- ' 
tress may find Proteus as faithful in Milan as in 
Verona, ere she departs to prepare for the journey. 

Act III. The third act opens in the palace in 
Milan, just as the Duke is dismissing Sir Thurio 
to give audience to Proteus. Taking advantage of 
his first private interview with the Duke, Proteus, 
after sundry false protestations of fidelity to his 
friend and of loyalty to his master, finally confesses 
that duty forces him to reveal that Valentine plans 
to elope with Silvia that very night; adding, sancti- 
moniously, that, although asked to become an ac- 
complice in this deed, he cannot reconcile it to Ws 
conscience to do so. 

After expressing gratitude for Proteus* waminfe 

Two Gentlemen of Verona 167 

the Duke confesses his suspicions have been so roused 
iFor some time past that his daughter now lodges in 
a tower of which the key is always in his own cus- 
tody. Although he, therefore, fancies Silvia safe, 
Proteus proves how Love laughs at locksmiths by in- 
forming him of the rope-ladder scheme, which is to 
enable the lady to escape. Having thus thoroughly 
exposed his friend's plans, Proteus implores the Duke 
not to betray him, and leaves the room, calling his 
attention to Valentine's approach. 

Turning to the new-comer, — ^who endeavours to 
steal past him, concealing a rope-ladder beneath his 
cloak, — the Duke inquires what he is carrying, only 
to hear it is a parcel of letters. But Valentine dis- 
plays considerable annoyance when the Duke de- 
tains him to discuss his daughter's projected alli- 
ance with Sir Thurio, although he tries to dis- 
guise his impatience by saying it would be a fine 
match, and by inquiring how the lady views the 
sw^ain ? 

Thereupon the Duke exclaims his daughter is un- 
dutiful, as she has refused to accept his choice. He 
professes to be angry enough to cast her off, consol- 
ing himself for her loss by marrying again. When 
Valentine inquires how he can serve the Duke in so 
delicate a matter, this nobleman replies he is anxious 
to learn the newest methods for courting. Valen- 
tine thereupon suggests that he woo his lady-love 
with gifts, and when the Duke vows she scorns his 
presents, assures him that no lady's refusals are to 
be taken seriously. He winds up his lecture on 
courtship by saying, * That man that hath a tongue, I 

1 68 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

say, IS no man, if with his tongue he cannot win a 

When the Duke describes how inaccessible this 
lady is, Valentine suggests his visiting her by night, 
bidding him use a rope-ladder to reach her. This 
scheme appeals to his grace, who minutely inquires 
what such a ladder may be, and where it can be 
procured? Whereupon Valentine promises to sup- 
ply him with one that very evening, advising him to 
wear a cloak like his, so he can carry it unnoticed. 

The Duke, who has been asking all these questions 
with a purpose in view, now insists upon removing 
the cloak from Valentine's shoulders to try it on; 
thereby revealing the fact that the youth is carrying 
a letter addressed to Silvia, and a rope-ladder such 
as he has described. After taking possession of the 
letter, the Duke reads it aloud, only to discover 
that it contains eloquent protestations of aflfection, 
and a promise to free Silvia that very night. 

Turning upon Valentine, the Duke now reviles 
him as an impudent wretch, who has presumed to 
raise his eyes to his daughter, vowing he shall be 
exiled from court and slain if caught within the Km" 
its of his territory! 

After pronouncing this stern decree the Duke de- 
parts, while Valentine wails that to leave Silvia is 
equivalent to death, and that no happiness remains 
to him on earth if he cannot see her. Still, mindful 
of the ducal threats he dares not tarry, and is about 
to flee to save his life. 

It is at this moment Proteus appears, calling to 
his servant to find Valentine, whom he seems re- 



Two Gentlemen of Verona 169 

joiced to discover here. He announces, however, 
that he is bearer of bad news, and when Valentine 
anxiously inquires whether any harm has befallen 
Silvia, replies that a recent ducal proclamation exiles 
him from Milan. When Valentine asks whether Sil- 
via is aware of this decree, Proteus describes her tears, 
saying she fell at her father^s feet and implored him 
w^ith clasped hands to spare her lover. Her grief 
and intercession, however, only added fuel to the 
Duke's wrath, making him decree her imprisonment, 
ivhich news adds bitterness to Valentine's sorrow. 

In attempting to comfort his friend, Proteus bids 
bim remember that * hope is a lover's staff,' ere he 
urges him to depart, promising to transmit his letters 
to Silvia. Thereupon Valentine bids his friend's 
servant notify his own man to meet him at the north 
gate, ere he leaves the stage arm in arm with Pro- 
teus. They have barely gone when the servant re- 
mark that Proteus is a knave, having cheated his 
Wend out of his lady-love. He, therefore, con- 
dudes it better not to tell any one of his own love 
iffairs, although immediately thereafter he begins 
•diking to himself of the milkmaid he is wooing, 
vhose perfections he has jotted down upon a paper. 

It is while he is conning this list, that Valentine's 
servant enters ; so both men begin one of their spar- 
i'^gi punning conversations, in the course of which 
Valentine's man snatches the paper from his com- 
>anion's hand and rattles off the lady's faults and 
virtues. Only when considerable time has been 
lasted in this manner, does Proteus* man suddenly 
•cmember to deliver his message, and Valentine's 

170 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

man hurries off to join his master, while his com- 
panion gleefully comments that he will probably be 
beaten for his delay. 

The next scene is played in the palace, where the 
Duke is interviewing Sir Thurio, assuring him that, 
now Valentine is banished, he will soon be able to 
win his daughter's favour. This reasoning does not, 
however, convince Sir Thurio, who explains that, 
since Valentine's departure, the lady has been most 
unkind. Their conversation is interrupted by the 
entrance of Proteus, from whom the Duke inquires 
whether Valentine has gone, commenting on his 
daughter's grief at his banishment. 

When Proteus assures him this sorrow will soon 
cease, the Duke gladly agrees, while Sir Thurio 
continues despondent. Meantime, entirely deceived 
by Proteus' pretended devotion to him and to his 
daughter, the Duke pours out into the youth's ear 
complaints in regard to Silvia's perversity in con- 
tinuing to love a suitor of whom her father does not 
approve. In hopes of changing the young lady's 
mind, the Duke also begs Proteus to visit her fre- 
quently, slandering his friend whenever he has access 
to her, so as to undermine her affection for Valen- 

It is under pretence of serving the Duke that 
Proteus accepts this charge, being secretly delighted 
with the opportunity it affords him to be with the 
lady, press his own suit, and win her favour. Still, to 
throw dust in the eyes of the father who deems him 
safe because betrothed, Proteus bids Sir Thurio 
compose sonnets in honour of his lady-love and 

Two Gentlemen of Verona 171 

serenade her. This advice is approved by the Duke, 
who pronounces Proteus an expert lover, and Sir 
Thurio gravely promises to carry it out, leaving the 
room immediately in quest of musicians to serenade 
Silvia that evening. 

Act IV. The fourth act opens on the frontiers 
of Mantua, in a forest, where outlaws are watch- 
ing all the paths to arrest travellers. When the 
brigands, therefore, behold Valentine and his servant, 
they challenge them to stand and deliver, although 
their victims claim they have nothing save their 
clothes, having just been exiled from Milan. 

Having suffered a similar penalty, the outlaws 
eagerly inquire for what cause Valentine has been 
banished; whereupon he pretends to have fought a 
duel in which his opponent was fairly slain. As 
such a murder seems perfectly legitimate to the 
outlaws, they fraternally invite Valentine to join 
them, explaining that they, too, have been exiled 
for like offences. Next, they invite Valentine to 
become their chief, threatening to kill him unless he 
complies; so he determines to make a virtue of 
'lecessity, provided they will pledge themselves 
to *do no outrages on silly women or poor pas- 
sengers;' for, like Robin Hood, he is willing to 
despoil the rich, but eager to protect the poor. 

The next scene is played in Milan beneath Silvia's 
window, where Proteus stands alone, commenting 
^Pon his treachery to his friend and his proposed dis- 
loyalty to Sir Thurio, whose suit he is pretending to 
further. He adds that, although granted free ac- 
cess to Silvia, he has not yet been able to undermine 

172 Stories of Shakespeare^ s Comedies 

her trust in his friend, and that she reproaches him 
for disloyalty to Julia, his former sweetheart, when- 
ever he tries to make love to her. Although Silvia 
has been so unkind that any other suitor would feel 
discouraged, Proteus declares that, * spaniel-like, the 
more she spurns my love, the more it grows and 
fawneth on her still.' 

His soliloquy is interrupted by the arrival of Sir 
Thurio with musicians to serenade Silvia, and it 
is while the performers are tuning their instruments 
that Julia, disguised as a page, is led into the back- 
ground by the host, who has brought a despondent 
guest into this garden, hoping to cheer him with 
music As they enter, the host declares the page 
will here see the gentleman concerning whom he in- 
quired. Then, after decr3ring the singing of a 
dainty sonnet, the page asks whether Proteus ever 
visits Silvia, only to learn that his servant reports 
him madly in love with the Duke's daughter. Be- 
sides, the host volunteers, this servant has just been 
sent to procure a dog, to be offered to the lady in 
his master's name on the morrow. 

The serenaders now leave, and Sir Thurio follows 
them, promising to meet Proteus on the next day. 
All have gone when Silvia opens her window, and 
thus Proteus receives the thanks intended for the 
serenader. When he fervently exclaims he is al- 
ways anxious to fulfil her wishes, Silvia bids him 
cease annoying her with attentions, and return to 
his former lady-love. Thereupon, Proteus swears 
Julia is dead — a remark which Silvia answers ifl' 
dignantly, while Julia softly vows that, although 

Two Gentlemen of Verona 173 

she may be dead, she is not yet buried ! When Pro- 
teus ventures to assert that Valentine, too, has 
passed away, Silvia refuses to believe him, but is 
weak enough to yield to a flattering request for her 
picture, vowing, however, that it vnW speak to him 
in the same strain as she does herself. 

After Silvia and Proteus have withdrawn, the 
page rouses his nodding host to inquire where Pro- 
teus now lodges, as he wishes to visit him. Then, 
all being quiet on the scene, Sir Eglamour, a knight- 
errant, steals near, having come to receive Silvia's 
orders. At his call, the fair lady opens her win- 
dow and begs him to escort her, when she leaves 
home on the morrow to avoid marrying the suitor her 
father is forcing her to accept. She adds that she 
can trust Sir Eglamour, knowing he has vowed fidel- 
ity to the memory of his beloved, and implores him 
to take her to Mantua, where she hopes to rejoin 
Valentine. She also agrees to meet Sir Eglamour at 
the cell of a holy friar, where she often goes for con- 
fession, and all arrangements being completed, both 
leave the stage. 

A while later the scene is occupied by Sir Pro- 
teus' servant, with the dog he took to Silvia. It is 
'iot, however, the choice animal his master wished 
to bestow upon his lady-love, but his own cur, whose 
training has little fitted him for a lady's drawing- 
room. A moment later Proteus comes upon the 
scene, talking to the page, whom he fails to recog- 
'^ise, but whose appearance is so prepossessing that 
'^e wishes to employ him as messenger to Silvia. 
On discovering his servant's presence, Proteus in- 


1 74 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

quires how the lady received his gift, only to be 
told she refused the dog with scorn, — a refusal quite 
comprehensible to Proteus when he discovers that 
his man offered her a cur in his name! 

While the servant departs in quest of the valuable 
animal which he claims was stolen from him, Pro- 
teus resumes his conversation with the page, bidding 
him carry a ring to Silvia which was once given 
him by one who loved him dearly. When the page 
artlessly inquires whether the giver is dead, Proteus 
denies it; so the page pities the lady, hinting she 
may have loved him as passionately as he now 
loves Silvia, remarks to which Proteus pays no heed. 
Instead, he directs his emissary how to reach the 
lady, bidding him claim, in exchange for the ring, 
the promised picture. 

When Proteus has gone, Julia conunents upon 
the strange fate which makes her the bearer of such 
a message, and compels her to carry her own ring 
to the person who has supplanted her in her lover's 
affections. Instead of pleading Proteus' cause, as 
has been enjoined upon her, Julia intends to do the 
contrary, and, therefore, eagerly questions a lady 
who steps upon the scene. On ascertaining it is Sil- 
via, the page delivers both message and ring, claim- 
ing the picture which he is sent to procure. Silvia 
not only refuses to read Proteus' letter, but tears it 
up contemptuously, declaring she has no respect for 
the writer. Then she spurns the ring, knowing it 
was given to him by a lovely lady he once loved, and 
adding that she will never so wrong a fellow- 

Two Gentlemen of Verona 175 

At these words the page heartily thanks her, and 
when Silvia wonderingly inquires whether it is be- 
cause he knows the lady in question, vows he is as 
well acquainted with Julia as with himself. He 
adds that this lady was once dearly beloved by Pro- 
teus, and describes her beauty and figure, saying she 
is exactly his height, for she once allowed him to 
wear her garments to act a play. All this informa- 
tion proves vividly interesting to Silvia, who be- 
stows a reward upon the page ere leaving the scene 
with her attendants. 

The page now has an occasion to comment upon 
ker generosity to a stranger, her gentle compassion 
for a forsaken lady, and her loyalty to her own sex 
and lover. Then, in the picture which has been 
delivered to him, he studies Silvia's attractions, 
ascertaining with delight that she is no better look- 
ing than Julia, who, he hopes, may some time re- 
cover Proteus* love. 

Act V. The fifth act is begun in the friar's cell, 
where Sir Eglamour is waiting at sunset for Sil- 
via, who is to join him there. When he sees her 
appear, he greets her eagerly, only to be told to 
go and await her at the postern gate, as she fears 
they may be spied upon. To reassure her, Sir Egla- 
mour states the forest is near, and that, once within 


^ts mazes, they will be safe from pursuit. 

The next scene is played in the palace, where Sir 
Thurio is questioning Proteus in regard to his pros- 
pects of winning Silvia. He seems delighted when 
^old he has made progress, the lady only criticising 
^rtain defects in his person, which he proposes to 

176 Stories of Shakespeare^ s Comedies 

remedy by altering his dress, althou^ the page, 
present in the background, saucily comments such 
alterations will be of no avail. 

After some more conversation, devoted to feeding 
Sir Thurio's vanity, the Duke comes in, inquiring 
whether Sir Eglamour and his daughter have been 
seen ? It soon becomes evident Silvia has fled with 
the knight, a friar reporting having seen them both in 
the forest, near the cell where Silvia goes for con- 
fession. In his indignation at his daughter's escape, 
the Duke bids both young men accompany him in 
pursuit of the fugitives, whom he hopes to overtake 
before they cross the frontier. 

The Duke having gone. Sir Thurio vows it is a 
peevish girl who tries to escape such a suitor as 
himself, and decides to join the pursuit only to 
avenge the insult Sir Eglamour has put upon him. 
Meantime, Proteus decides to join the expedition for 
love of Silvia, and the page so as to outwit his 
treacherous plans. 

We next behold the forest on the frontier of Man- 
tua, where outlaws have just seized Silvia, whom / f 
they are leading away to their captain. By their 
conversation we discover Sir Eglamour has man- 
aged to escape, and that, while two of their number 
are pursuing him, the rest are accompanying the lady 
to their chief's cave, where they promise her honour- 
able treatment. Meantime, in another part of the 
forest, Valentine is cogitating over his position in 
this solitude, and dreaming of the lady whom he 
loves so dearly, but cannot see. In spite of his ab- 
straction, however, he soon becomes aware of some 


Two Gentlemen of Verona 177 

commotion in the forest, and idly wonders what 
travellers his companions have arrested ? 

Just then he beholds an advancing group, consist- 
ing of Proteus, Silvia, and Julia, still disguised as 
a page. Having surprised the outlaws leading Sil- 
via away, Proteus has boldly rescued her, and is now 
claiming as reward some mark of her favour, which 
she still refuses to bestow upon him. Overhearing 
this, Valentine can scarcely credit his ears, and 
listens intently when Silvia wails that she would 
rather have been seized* by a hungry lion than by so 
false a man as Proteus. She adds that the love she 
bears Valentine is so true she cannot but despise his 
treacherous friend, who should be ashamed of for- 
getting the loyalty due to Valentine and his oaths 
to Julia. Then, she concludes by urging Proteus 
to show greater fidelity to both lady-love and friend, 
paying no heed to his arguments in defence of his 
passion. But, when Proteus attempts to lay forcible 
hands upon Silvia to bend her to his will, Valentine 
suddenly steps forward, bidding him desist, and re- 
viling him for conduct he never would have credited. 

Being thus confronted by Valentine's contempt, 
Proteus, suddenly realising how deeply he has sinned, 
^akes an humble apology, which Valentine accepts, 
Wng generous enough to pardon any injury done 
him, and saying, *Who by repentance is not satis- 
fied is not of heaven nor earth.' Then, thinking 
^t possible Silvia may love his friend better than 
himself, and that only virtue keeps her loyal, Val- 
entine magnanimously offers to relinquish all rights 
to her. Afraid this will prevent her recovering 

[78 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

ler lover, Julia now faints away, so both men 
lasten to the rescue of the fainting page. On re- 
overing his senses, the page exclaims he has been 
^ery remiss, for he has not yet delivered the ring 
<^hich Proteus bade him give Silvia. But Proteus 
low perceives with surprise it is no longer the token 
le gave the page, but that which Julia received as 
lis parting gift! An explanation ensues, in the 
ourse of which Proteus discovers the page is Julia, 
(rho has assumed male garb only to follow him. 
rhe devotion she has shown so touches him that 
le declares himself cured of inconstancy, and glad 
return to his former allegiance. 

This conclusion pleases Valentine, who bestows 
lis blessing upon the reunited lovers, just as the 
outlaws bring in the Duke and Sir Thurio, whom 
hey have captured in the forest. The brigands 
eem delighted to have secured such a prize, but Val- 
ntine no sooner recognises the Duke than he does 
obeisance to him, bidding his men immediately set 
iim free. 

Surprised to discover Valentine and his daughter 
ogether, the Duke does not interfere when Valen- 
ine demands that Sir Thurio relinquish all rights 
Silvia or forfeit his life. When Sir Thurio 
•romptly acquiesces, asseverating — ' I hold him but 

fool who will endanger his body for a girl that 
Dves him not* — ^this statement proves to the Duke 
hat he is too much of a coward to strike a single 
low to defend his claim to Silvia. Besides, the 
ather is now so struck with admiration for Valen- 
ine, that he bids him marry his daughter and re- 





Two Gentlemen of Verona 179 

^tnirn to court, where, bygones being forgotten, they 
^:an begin a new life. 

This consent to his marriage charms Valentine, 
"who takes courage to beg another boon, which the 
3)uke graciously promises to grant, whatever it may 
l)e. Then Valentine eloquently pleads in behalf of 
the outlaws, all of whom are pardoned and re- 
instated, after promising to become good citizens. 

This settled, all return to Milan, Valentine prom- 
ising to shorten the way by an account of his ad- 
ventures, and explaining that the youthful page is 
none other than the fair Julia, who has come hither 
in quest of a recreant lover. The only punishment 
inflicted upon Proteus consists in an exposition of 
his treacherous plans, ere he is allowed to marry 
Julia, — ^while Valentine espouses Silvia, — ^and all 
thereafter enjoy ' one feast, one house, one mutual 


Act L The first act opens in the park of the 
King of Navarre. He enters upon the scene an- 
nouncing he has decided to lead the contemplative 
life hereafter, with three friends, who have sworn 
to share his studies for the next three years. Dur- 
ing this time * Navarre shall be the wonder of the 
world,* and his court * a little Academe, still and 
contemplative in living art.* One of these noble- 
men, Longaville, fancies that during that time * the 
mind shall banquet, though the body pine,' Dumain, 
that he will enjoy * living in philosophy,' while the 
third, Biron, deems it will be easy to study that 
length of time, but that the stipulations not to speak 
to women, to fast, and never to sleep more than three 
hours a night, will prove * barren tasks, too hard 
to keep.' 

The king, however, assures him that, having 
joined his company, he will have to keep the oath, 
although Biron objects it was taken merely in jest. 
He declares his private study shall henceforth be 
how to feast when told to fast, how to meet some 
lady fair, and wittily demonstrates that such is the 
aim and end of all study. His humorous retorts 
to royal objections fill up the greater part of the 
scene, the remarks exchanged bristling with witty 
epigrams, wherein the poet's talent is freely dis- 


Love's Labour^ 5 Lost i8i 

XDlayed. Seeing his principal companion has turned 
x-estive, the king finally suggests that Biron leave 
••hem to their studies, whereupon the latter rejoins 
lie will remain with them, and sign the paper the 
Icing produces. Before doing so, however, he reads 
aloud the peculiar item, ' that no woman shall 
come within a mile of my court,* a decree published 
four days ago under penalty that any woman draw- 
ing near the palace will lose her tongue. The sec- 
ond item is that any man seen talking to a woman 
during the next three years will have to undergo 
such punishment as his companions decree. 

When Biron hints the king himself will be the 
first to break this rule, since the French King's 
daughter is on her way to consult with him in re- 
gard to the cession of Aquitane, Navarre admits 
he forgot that fact when the paper was drawn up, 
and that there will have to be an exception made 
in the princess' favour. Hearing his royal master 
plead necessity, Biron sagely remarks, 'Necessity 
will make us all forsworn three thousand times 
within this three years' space, for every man with his 
affects is born ! * Nevertheless, he signs the decree, 
and states that, although he seems ' so loath,' he is 
confident he will be * the last that will last keep his 

When he inquires what recreation is to be granted, 
the king explains how Armado, a refined traveller 
from Spain, who ' hath a mint of phrases in his 
brain,' will delight them with tales of his native coun- 
try. Hearing this, Biron seems to be satisfied, but 
the others frankly admit their chief amusement will 

1 82 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

be derived from Costard, the rustic. Just then, this 
man is brought in by the constable Dull, who also 
delivers to the king a letter from Armado. While 
his majesty is reading it, Costard informs Biron 
how he was caught with Jaquenetta in the park, 
and that, although ' it is the manner of a man 
to speak to a woman,' he is now to be punished 
for it. 

The king next proceeds to read aloud his letter, 
wherein, with much wordy circumlocution, Armado 
describes how he found Costard — ^whom he honours 
with epithets the rustic acknowledges as applicable 
to him — ^talking * with a child of our grandmother 
Eve, a female ! ' The letter concludes with the state- 
ment that the swain is sent in the constable's cus- 
tody to the king to be judged, Armado meanwhile 
keeping the other delinquent in his house ready to 
produce her at the king's request. This reading fin- 
ished, his majesty begins to cross-question Costard, 
who admits speaking to a woman, although he in- 
sists he did not thereby infringe the law, as it de- 
clared any one taken with a * wench * would be 
arrested! The rustic claims that a virgin, damsel, 
or maid, is not a * wench,' an excuse the king re- 
fuses to accept. He, therefore, decrees that in pun- 
ishment, Costard shall fast a week on bran and 
water, Biron himself delivering him over to Armado, 
who is to act as keeper during that space of time. 
Then the king leaves the scene with two of his 
friends, while Biron lingers to exclaim he is ready to 
wager his head ' these oaths and laws will prove an 
idle scorn.' This assurance Costard echoes, stating 

hovels Labour^ s Lost 183 

he IS suffering for truth's sake ere Dull leads him 

The next scene is played on the same spot, where 
Armado is bidding his pupil Moth tell him what it 
portends when a man grows melancholy ? Then the 
two indulge in a duel of repartee, wherein th^ 
parade their wit and learning. After calling for an 
explanation of almost every term Moth uses, Armado 
finally reveals he has promised to study three years 
with the king, but has already broken his promise by 
falling deeply in love with a Idwly maiden. To 
comfort himself, he has his di^iple recapitulate the 
names of the world's grej^overs, and describe the 
charms of their lady-loves?^""^Still, Armado avers all 
pale before the * white and red ' of his own charmer, 
in whose toils he is completely caught. Next, still 
hoping to divert his thoughts, the master invites 
the pupil to sing, but before the song can begin sev- 
eral persons draw near. 

Among them we see the constable Dull, who re- 
ports the king has sent Costard to Armado tq be de- 
tained a prisoner, and has decreed that Jaquenetta 
shall remain in the park as dairy-maid. This news 
pleases Armado, who arranges to visit his new 
sweetheart at the lodge, ere he dismisses her and 
Dull. Then, he entrusts Costard's keeping to Moth, 
and when they have gone off together, indulges in a 
soliloquy in regard to his passion for Jaquenetta, for 
whose sake he is forsworn, and in whose honour he 
proposes to indite a sonnet ! 

Act II. The second act opens before the same 
park, just as the Princess of France and her train 

184 Stories of Shakespeare^ s Comedies 

arrive on the scene. The chamberlain, Boyet, now 
bids his mistress pluck up spirit, as her father has 
sent her hither to obtain from the King of Navarre 
the restoration of Aquitaine. The princess, how- 
ever, deeming this task beyond her strength, dreads 
it, for she counts little upon her physical charms. 
Besides, she has heard it rumoured Navarre has with- 
drawn from society for three years of silent study, 
during which no woman will be allowed to ap- 
proach his court! Not daring to brave such a decree 
herself, the princess sends her chamberlain into the 
park, to inform the King of Navarre that the daugh- 
ter of the King of France is waiting at his gates for 
an interview, * on serious business, craving quick dis- 

The chamberlain having departed with cheerful 
alacrity to execute these orders, the princess inquires 
of her train whether any of them know the gentle- 
men who have joined the king in his studious retire- 
ment? When Longaville, Dumain, and Biron are 
mentioned, Maria, Katharine, and Rosaline describe 
in turn how they became acquainted with these 
lords, each description proving so laudatory on the 
whole, that the princess declares all three must be 
in love, for each has garnished her lover with 'be- 
decking ornaments of praise ! ' The ladies have 
barely finished their euphuistic descriptions of the 
three knights, when the chamberlain returns, an- 
nouncing that, unable to admit them on account of 
his oath, the King of Navarre will come out and 
speak to them at the gate^ as that will be no infringe- 
inent of his word. 

Love's Labour^ s Lost 1851 

A moment later, his majesty appears with his three 
companions and train, and gallantly bids the fair 
French princess welcome to his court of Navarre. 
When the princess, in return, ironically welcomes 
him * to the wide fields,' the king explains with em- 
barrassment that he has sworn an oath he cannot 
break. The princess, however, archly predicts it 
Moll soon be violated, and enters into a conversa- 
tion with the king, while Biron entertains Rosaline, 
both couples testing each other's mettle in the then 
fashionable game of repartee. 

After some polite verbal skirmishing, the king 
states the question as he understands it, promising 
that, as the princess has come to settle the business 
in her father's behalf, she shall return * well satis- 
fied to France again,' although he intimates the King 
of France's demands are unjust. When the princess 
reproaches him with not acknowledging the payments 
her father has made, Navarre courteously rejoins he 
has never heard of them, but is willing, if she 
proves her case, either to repay the sum in full, or to 
surrender Aquitaine, which he holds in pledge. Al- 
though unable to produce the required documents on 
the spot, — for the packet containing them has not yet 
arrived, — ^the princess accepts the offer and begs the 
king to postpone decision until the morrow. Na-. 
varrc, therefore, takes courteous leave, again regret- 
ting not to be able to receive the fair princess more 
worthily within his gates, but assuring her ' here 
without you shall be so received as you shall 
deem yourself lodged in my heart, though so 
denied fair harbour in my house.' Then, returning 

'1 86 Stories of Shakespeare^ s Comedies 

her gracious farewell with the oft-quoted, *Thy 
own wish wish I thee in every place!' Navarre 

Meantime, Biron, who has been conversing with 
the quick-witted Rosaline, takes leave of her, too, 
and rejoins his master, while Dumain and Longa- 
ville linger behind to ask the chamberlain the names 
of two of the princess' attendants who have par- 
ticularly attracted their notice. It is quite evi- 
dent both these gentlemen have fallen in love, as well 
as Biron, who, as soon as they have gone, returns to 
ask Boyet Rosaline's name, and to ascertain whether 
she is already married? 

The gentlemen once out of hearing, Maria de- 
clares the last to go was Biron, a man who enjoys 
the reputation of never uttering a word save in 
jest. Such being the case, the chamberlain rejoins 
he answered the stranger in his own vein, and en- 
couraged by Maria's playfulness, volunteers to kiss 
her. She, however, refuses such advances, declar- 
ing her lips are * no common,' and chaffing him un- 
til the princess remarks they must save their wit to ^ 
exercise it on Navarre and * his book-men.* Hearing 
this, the chamberlain gallantly assures his royal mis- 
tress the King of Navarre fell so deeply in love with 
her at first sight, that, provided she play her part 
well, he will give her 'Aquitaine and all that is 
his,' in return for ' one loving kiss.' Pretending to 
consider such a remark impertinent, the princess re- 
tires to her pavilion, while her maids linger to gibe 
at Boyet, whom they term *an old love-monger,' 
since he is to be their messenger whenever they wish 



- '-^i^^-:' %ll 

• .-.>' 

■ -■« 



|T K 


rf M#niu- J ■■■' 




^'^ '^ i 1 


~\-- 1 

I if 





Lov^s Labour^ s Lost 187 

to communicate with the unapproachable court of 

Act III. The third act opens in the same place, 
just as Armado is enjoining upon Moth to sing to 
him, and after listening to his song, bids him release 
Costard, so he can carry a letter to his love. After 
commenting upon these orders in wordy style, and 
arguing for a while about love, the pupil goes, and 
Armado, the pedant, sinks into melancholy. He is 
roused from his reflections by Moth's return with • 
Costard, whom he introduces by a pun, which gives 
rise to another display of recondite wit on the part 
of master and pupil. It is only after some time, 
therefore, that the love-letter is entrusted to the 
wondering Costard, who is told to deliver it to 
Jaquenetta. Delighted with his freedom, and with 
Ae gift which the pedant grandiloquently terms a • 
remuneration,' Costard watches master and pupil 
<lepart, and then reaches the conclusion that re- 
muneration must be the Latin for ' three farthings.' 
Still, as that is a larger sum than he has ever before 
''eceived, he is so pleased with the term that he 
^ows, * I will never buy or sell out of this word.' 

The rustic is still commenting upon his unusual 
'uck, when Biron joins him, and, after some talk in 
■regard to the purchasing power of three farthings, re- 
gains his services for the afternoon. Then Biron 
confides to the rustic that he wishes a letter deliv- 
ered to Rosaline, one of the ladies in the princess' 
train. He has noticed that the ladies daily hunt in 
this part of the forest, and wishes his 'sealed up 
counsel,* safely placed in Rosaline's fair hand. To 

1 88 Stories of Shakespear^s Comedies 

insure this he now hands Costard, with the letter, a 
' guerdon/ whidi proves to be a whole shilling, thus 
causing the rustic to hope none but ' gardons ' will 
henceforth come his way! 

The delighted Costard having departed, Biron, in 
a soliloquy, con le s ses he has fallen victim to 'Dan 
Cupid,' whose wiles he eloquently describes, for he, 
who has ever made fun of 'his almigjhty dreadful 
little mig^' is now reduced to 'love, write, si^ 
pray, sue, and groan.' 

Act IV. The fourth act, played in the same 
place, reveals the princess with her hunting train in- 
quiring of the diamberlain whether it was the king 
who in the distance, 'qmrred his horse so hard 
against the steep uprising of the hill ? ' Because the 
chamberlain seems doubtful, the princess haughtily 
remarks that, whoever it was, he showed a ' mount- 
ing mind,' and concludes that his majesty's answer is 
due to-day, and that they will return home as soon 
as it is received. Then, turning to the forester, she 
inquires where she had better post herself, for she 
prides herself upon her fine shooting. While con- 
versing wittily with this gentleman forester, and 
with her chamberlain, the princess is suddenly ac- 
costed by Costard, who blunderingly asks whether 
she is ' the head lady? ' Amused by his awkward- 
ness and simplicity, the princess mystifies him for a 
while, and then only asks for whom his message is 
intended? On learning it is a letter, from Mon- 
sieur Biron to Lady Rosaline, the princess takes pos- 
session of it, vowing it shall be read aloud to all 
present. She, therefore, breaks the seal, and hands 

Love's Labour^ s Lost 189 

it to her chamberlain, who finds it is addressed to 
Jaquenetta. Still, as his mistress insists upon hearing 
it, the chamberlain reads aloud a missive couched in 
such grandiloquent style that it hugely amuses the 
princess. She is still marvelling at its succession of 
parentheses within parentheses, when Boyet assures 
her it can have been penned only by Armado, a fan- 
tastic traveller, who ' makes sport to the prince and 
his book-mates.' 

Hearing this, the princess questions the rustic, who 
artlessly tells her Lord Biron gave him the letter 
for Lady Rosaline. Coldly informing him he has 
made a mistake, the princess hands over the letter 
to Rosaline, and leaves, followed by most of her 
train. The chamberlain, lingering behind with 
Rosaline, teasingly tries to obtain some information 
from her, but encounters only clever, evasive an- 
swers, couched in the style of the times. When Rosa- 
line and Katharine have followed their mistress, the 
chamberlain and Maria pump the rustic, who an- 
swers their witticisms in kind until they leave him 
with a reproof. Thus left to his own devices. Cos- 
tard declares he is *a most simple clown,' whom 
these lords and ladies are trying to mystify, but ex- 
presses keen admiration for Armado, whose manners 
in ladies' company seem to him the acme of ele- 

After the rustic has left, the scene is occupied by 
the schoolmaster Holofernes, the curate Sir Natha- 
niel, and the constable Dull, who discuss learnedly 
about himting matters, the schoolmaster, in par- 
ticular, interspersing his remarks with Latin words, 


190 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

which he ostentatiously translates for the bem 
of his companions. They are both duly impress^^^ 
although the constable, ignorant of classic tongu< 
often mistakes a Latin word for some similar soun 
ing expression in English. The curate, howevi 
charitably explains and excuses such errors, by sa; 
ing Dull has ' never fed of the dainties that are br 
in a book,' that ' he hath not eat paper> as it wer^ 
he hath not drunk ink ! ' These excuses seem som«^ 
what uncalled for by Dull, who, to exhibit sonr:3 
learning, too, propounds a riddle as old as the hilL^ 
which his companions solve without difficulty. Th. i 
three-cornered conversation continues until inte:r 
rupted by the arrival of Jaquenetta and Costard. 

Returning their greetings in his pedantic way, the 
schoolmaster learns that Jaquenetta has received a 
letter through Costard, which she wishes to have 
read aloud to her. After a sonorous Latin quotation 
from Holofernes, — ^which the curate admires, — ^the 
latter reads aloud Biron's flowery epistle, couched in 
verse far too elegant for Jaquenetta to understand. 
The pedantic schoolmaster, however, criticises the 
curate's mode of reading poetry, and vows he did not 
accent the lines properly. Then he demands of the 
damsel who the writer of this epistle may be, and 
when told, * Biron, one of the strange queen's lords,' 
glances in surprise at the superscription. Now only, 
he discovers it is addressed *.to the snow-white hand 
of the most beauteous Lady Rosaline,' and notices 
that the signature is *your ladyship's in all desired 
employment, Biron.' From this fact he sagely con- 
cludes the letter has fallen into the wrong hands, 

Lovers Labour^ s Lost 191 

and bids Jaquenetta hasten to deliver it to the King 
of Navarre. Afraid to venture alone, Jaquenetta 
s^gain bespeaks Costard's escort, and, after they have 
gone, the schoolmaster and curate discuss the verses, 
^re both depart; the former to dine with one 
of his pupils, to which meal he invites the constable 

They have barely left this picturesque glade when 
Biron appears there, holding a paper, and declaring 
that, while the king is hunting the deer, he is 
coursing himself, for love pursues him incessantly 
and inclines him to melancholy and rhyming. While 
regretting he should have perjured himself so soon, 
he wonders whether his companions are afflicted 
with the same mad disease, until he suddenly be- 
comes aware the king is drawing near, and hides 
in the bushes to take note of what he is doing. 
Deeming himself alone, the king sighs in such a 
sentimental way that Biron exclaims in an aside 
that his master has fallen victim to Cupid's art. 
He decides that by lending an attentive ear he may 
discover the royal secrets, and is soon rewarded by 
overhearing Navarre thoughtfully recite some 
verses he has composed, wherein he reveals how 
desperately he has fallen in love with the French 
princess. These lines he intends to drop in her way, 
just as Longaville draws near in his turn, also read- 
ing aloud. Wishing to ascertain why his follower 
is prowling thus alone in the forest, and what he is 
reading, the king plunges into the bushes, to spy 
upon him. 
Utterly imconscious of two listeners, Longaville 

192 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

now strolls forward, wailing he is forsworn, wb^ ^ 
causes the king and Biron to remark separately t^^ 
he is acting exactly like a man on the stage. 2^^ 
when the unfortunate man wonders whether he | 
first to perjure himself, a whisper from Biron | 
the bushes avers that three, at least, of their ban^ 
arc guilty of this sin! Meantime, Longaville cx^^ 
presses fear lest his stubborn lines fail to impres^ 
* sweet Maria, empriess of my love,' and seems fo :> 
a while inclined to tear them up and resort to plain 
prose. Still, after perusing them aloud, td the 
secret entertainment of his listeners, who comment 
upon his pompous lines, he decides to send theni} 
although he does not know by what agency. 

At this point, Longaville is disturbed in his cogi- 
tations by the sound of approaching footsteps, and 
promptly hides in his turn, while Biron mutters 
that they are acting just like children, while he 
sits aloft like a demigod in the sky, discovering 
'wretched fools' secrets.' Unconscious of three 
eavesdroppers, Dumain comes in sighing, *0 most 
divine Kate,' and proceeds to make sundry remarks 
about his lady-love's charms. Meanwhile, Biron, 
the king, and Longaville ironically comment upon 
his statements, although they all fervently echo 
his lover-like * O that I had my wish I ' Dumain, 
too, reads aloud verses he has composed, which he in- 
tends to send with * something else more plain, that 
shall express my true love's fasting pain.' He ex- 
presses so ardent a desire that the king, Biron, and 
Longaville were lovers too, for * none offend where 
' all alike do dote,' that Longaville emerges from bis 

Love's Labour^ s Lost . 193 

hiding place, virtuously exclaiming he ought to 
blush to be * o'erheard and taken napping so ! * But, 
scarcely has LongaviUe finished this hypocritical re- 
proof, when the king, issuing from the bushes in his 
turn, vows LongaviUe has doubly offended, since 
he is in a similar plight, and has spent considerable 
time expatiating upon Maria's charms. This royal 
reproof, addressed to LongaviUe, simply delights 
Biron, who waits until it is ended, ere he steps out 
in his turn to 'whip hypocrisy,' for, although he 
humbly begs his master's pardon, he cannot re- 
frain from wittily describing how he overheard 
Navarre behaving just as sentimentally as Longa- 
viUe or Dumain. Biron is still ridiculing all three, 
-^who are covered with confusion to have been 
overheard and wince when Biron repeats their 
speeches, — and has just launched into a tirade, 
wherein he states he holds it sin * to break the vow 
I am engaged in,' when tramping is heard, and 
Jaquenetta and Costard rush in. 

After greeting the king, this couple breathlessly 
declare they have a paper, which must be treason, 
and which they hand over to him. While the king 
questions the messengers, — ^who declare the missive 
was given them by the pedant Armado, — the king 
carelessly hands it over to Biron, who no sooner 
glances at it, than he furiously tears the paper to 
pieces. His master, wonderingly inquiring why he 
does this, Biron rejoins it was a mere trifle, but 
Dumain and LongaviUe insist it ' moved him to 
passion,' and curiously gather up the bits to see 
what they mean. To Dumain's surprise he discov- 

194 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

crs they are in Biron's handwriting! Seeing him- 
self betrayed by Costard's stupidity, Biron now 
confesses he made fun of his friends without having 
any right to do so, seeing he is in the same predica- 
ment as they. He acknowledges * that you three 
fools lack'd me fool to make up the mess,' and that 
they four ' are pick-purses in love,' and hence * d^ 
serve to die.' Then, urging his master to dismiss the 
rustic couple, — ^who depart with the virtuous con- 
sciousness of having ably fulfilled a weighty duty,— 
Biron rapturously embraces his fellow-sinners, de- 
claring sagely, * young blood doth not obey an old 

When the king asks him whether the torn lines 
were addressed to some one he loves, Biron en- 
thusiastically launches out into a panegyric of 
'heavenly Rosaline,' over whose charms he raves, 
until the king and his friends proceed just as rap- 
turously to claim the palm of beauty for their lady- 
loves. The duo between the king and Biron, who 
are the readiest speakers, is varied by an occasional 
quartette, in which Dumain and Longaville take 
part, so as to defend and uphold the attractions of 
their sweethearts. In the course of this fourfold 
rhapsody and dispute in regard to the preeminence of 
their beloveds' charms, these men employ the ex- 
travagant euphuistic expressions current at that day 
to describe female attractions. Finally, Biron pro- 
nounces that the only study worthy of mankind is 
that of the opposite sex, and declares women's eyes 
are *the ground, the books, the academes, from 
whence doth spring the true Promethean fire.' The 

Love's Labour^ 5 Lost 195 

four lovers, therefore, conclude 'it is religion to 
be thus forsworn,* and decide, instead of foolishly 
carrying out their original programme, to lay siege 
to the hearts of all four ladies. This motion being 
enthusiastically carried, plans are made to entertain 
the ladies in their tents with a series of masques, 
revels, and dances, each suitor pledging himself to 
do his best to entertain his special inamorata, and 
strew * her way with flowers/ 

Act V. The fifth act opens on the same spot, 
just as the schoolmaster, the curate, and Dull arc 
expatiating in characteristic fashion upon the en- 
joyment they have derived from their meal. The 
curate and schoolmaster use many pretentious words, 
until interrupted in their verbal pyrotechnics by the 
arrival of the very man whose arts they were dis- 
cussing. When Armado, with Moth, and Costard 
have joined them, a conversation is begun, wherein 
the learned speakers parade considerable false Latin 
and make far-fetched puns, while Moth slyly 
whispers to Costard that 'they have been at a 
great feast of languages, and stolen the scraps ! ' 
'Then, taking his part in the discussion. Moth dis- 
plays wit which appeals so strongly to Costard's 
limited sense of humour, that he bestows upon him 
the * remuneration * he received a little while 

Finally, Armado informs his companions, in such 
a maze of words that it is difiicult to discover their 
leaning, that the king and his companions wish to 
entertain the ladies with a pageant. Knowing the 
schoolmaster's and curate's talents in this line, Ar- 

196 Stories of Shakespeare^ s Comedies 

mado has come to bespeak their aid. Flattered by 
such a compliment, the schoolmaster enthusiastically 
suggests they present the * Nine Worthies/ he him- 
self volunteering to play three of the parts, and 
awarding the rest to his companions. When they , 
object that Moth, — whom he selects for Hercules,— 
is far too small and puny to suit the character, he 
readily declares the page shall personate the infant 
Hercules, and strangle serpents, declaiming an 
apology of his composition, while Dull accompanies 
him on the tabor. This settled, all depart to prepare 
for this wonderful play. 

The princess and her maids now appear in their 
turn, commenting merrily upon the rich gifts, or 
fairings, their respective lovers have sent them, each 
token being accompanied with verses which they 
discuss. In the course of this conversation they 
chaff each other wittily, and exhibit their letters and 
gifts. Finally the chamberlain bursts in, almost 
choking with laughter, bidding them prepare for a 
great onslaught, and exclaiming, 'Muster your 
wits; stand in your own defence; or hide your head 
like cowards, and fly hence ! * When the princess 
eagerly inquires what he meansr, he explains that, 
while dozing beneath a sycamore, he overheard the 
king and his companions plotting to surprise the 
four ladies in the guise of Russian mummers, and 
laboriously teaching a page the speech he is to redtc 
in herald's guise. Boyet adds, that, after dancing 
before the ladies, these Russian lovers will eacb 
invite the object of his affections to tread a mcas-" 
ure with him, all feeling confident they can tecogr 

Lov^s Labour's Lost ^ ^97 

nise even masked sweethearts, thanks to the orna- 
ments they will doubtless wear. 

The princess no sooner learns this merry plot, 
than she decides to outwit it, and, quick as a flash, 
exchanges tokens with her companions, so that each 
Russian will lead away the wrong masked lady, to 
whom he will doubtless make a formal proposal. 
Her intention is * to cross theirs,' for she feels sure 
' they do it but in mocking merriment,' and is, there- 
fore, anxious to pay them back in their own coin. 
Her conclusion that * there's no such sport as sport 
by sport o'erthrown,' meets with such approval 
from the other three ladies, that they promptly as- 
sume masks as soon as trumpets are heard, and pre- 
pare to carry out the deception they have planned to 
bewilder their disguised suitors. 

A moment later the promised entertainment is 
ushered in, the page Moth marching ahead, prepared 
to recite his piece. He remembers it, however, so 
imperfectly, that the attitude of the ladies, — who, in- 
stead of facing him, suddenly turn their backs upon 
him, — puts him out entirely. Although Biron 
frantically prompts him, the poor youth gets so 
tangled up that he finally flees in disgrace! Be- 
cause she personates the princess, Rosaline now 
haughtily inquires of the chamberlain who these 
people may be, and asks that they make known the 
purpose of their call? When the chamberlain re- 
plies they have come to dance before her, she seems 
to hesitate; still, after exchanging a few witticisms 
on the subject with Boyet and Biron, permits them, 
at the king's request, to exhibit their talents. She 

198 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

and her companions, however, utterly refuse to tread 
a measure with them ; but in spite of this refusal, the 
king and his friends manage to lead aside the ladies 
wearing their respective tokens, whom they, there- 
fore, naturally suppose to be the objects of their 
love. In this part of the scene the king is paired 
with Rosaline, the princess with Biron, Longaville 
with Katharine, and Dumain with Maria, and each 
lady proceeds to lead her lover on and flout him 
wittily. All four suitors finally depart, having de- 
rived little satisfaction from this coveted interview, 
although each has manfully tried to make the depth 
of his attachment clear. 

Boyet, the amused spectator of these asides, wisely 
remarks * the tongues of mocking wenches are as 
keen as is the razor's edge invisible,* and when the 
Russians have gone, laughingly compares them to 
tapers * with your sweet breaths puff'd out,' before 
each lady describes how her swain proposed to her. 
They laugh merrily over all the speeches, but, con- 
vinced the suitors will soon reappear, retire to their 
tents to remove their masks, and restore the bor- 
rowed tokens to their rightful owners. They in- 
tend, however, to continue the game, by facetiously 
describing to the king and his companions the 
ridiculous mummers who have just visited them. 

While they are still in their tents, the King of 
Navarre returns with his three companions, dressed 
as usual, and inquires of the chamberlain where the 
princess may be? After courteously rejoining she 
is in her tent, Boyet hastens thither to announce 
to his mistress that the King of Navarre craves audi- 

hovels Labour^ s Lost 199 

ence. During his absence, Biron, who has repeat- 
edly exchanged witticisms with the chamberlain, re- 
marks that this fellow * pecks up wit as pigeons 
pease, and utters it again when God doth please,' 
a very good sample of much of the wit in this 

In a few moments the princess reappears, followed 
by her ladies, and, after returning the king's greeting, 
refuses his tardy invitation to enter the park, insist- 
ing she cannot be a party to his breaking his vows. 
Besides, she avers she has not been dull, and, to 
prove it, describes how they have just been enter- 
tained by * 3, mess of Russians!' Then Rosaline 
exclaims that throughout the hour these men spent 
with them, they 'did not bless us with one happy 
word,' a cutting remark resented by Biron, who 
returns that her wit * makes wise things foolish.' 
This proves the signal for a new sparring match, in 
the course of which Rosaline routs Biron utterly by 
revealing that she and her companions saw through 
their disguise. Finding himself detected, Biron 
promises never again to try and deceive Rosaline, 
but invites her to bruise him with scorn, confound 
him with a flout, thrust her sharp wit quite through 
his ignorance, and cut him to pieces with her keen 
conceit ! 

Meanwhile, the king having also craved the 
princess' pardon, she bids him confess what he whis- 
pered in his lady's ear when last he was here? 
When Navarre rejoins how he assured her ' that 
more than all the world' he did respect her, the 
princess asks whether he will reject that lady's hand 

200 Stories of Shakespeare^ s Comedies 

in case she claims him ? Hearing him swear, ' Upon 
my honour, no,' the princess summons Rosaline, and 
bids her state exactly what her Russian suitor whis- 
pered in her pretty ear. When Rosaline repeats 
Navarre's speech, word for word, his amazed 
majesty exclaims he never swore love to Rosaline, 
but to the princess, who wore his token! 

Thereupon the princess drily informs him how on 
that day Rosaline wore his jewels, and he, turning 
to Biron, vows some * carry tale * must have betrayed 
their secret. They are just accusing the chamber- 
lain of doing so; and the whole matter is barely 
cleared up, and the Russians forced to acknowledge 
they have been defeated in a brave and merry tilt, 
when Costard awkwardly enters upon the scene, 
inquiring whether they would like to see the Nine 
Worthies, who have come? As three men only 
have entered, Biron playfully inquires where the 
nine may be, only to hear the simple Costard as* 
sure him that three times three is nine, for each 
man will take three parts. To tease him, Biron 
tangles him up with questions he cannot understand. 
Undeterred by all this. Costard demands again 
whether the company are ready to see the Nine 
Worthies, volunteering that he is to play the part 
of ' Pompion the Great.' Gracious permission be- 
ii^g granted the Worthies to appear, the clown hur- 
ries out, while the king murmurs this man will 
surely disgrace them; but Biron comforts him with 
the assurance it will be good policy to let the ladies 
see a worse show than that presented by * the king 
and his company.* Besides, the princess insists 

Lovers Labour^ s Lost 201 

seeing the production, as ' that sport best 
es that doth least know how.' 
moment later Don Armado enters, and, after 
:rsing a while apart with the king, hands him 
ler. Meanwhile the princess wonderingly asks 
I whether this man serves God, for his speech 
bombastic and involved that it proves almost 
elligible. When Armado disappears, assur- 
bem the schoolmaster is * exceeding fantastical,' 
prepare for the appearance of the promised 

Worthies. Costard, the first player, en- 
)n the scene, tricked out as Pompey, and has 
;ly uttered a few words of his speech when the 
berlain contradicts him, and soon succeeds in 
ig him out. Such is Costard's confusion, that 
nally piteously entreats the princess to say 
ks Pompey,' and thus grant him the privilege 
Ithdraw. To humour the rustic, the princess 
ptly complies, and. Costard having vanished, 
irate appears, personating Alexander. He, too, 

guyed by Boyet and Biron that he is soon 
jd to leave the scene. 

le rustic now reappears, jealously remarking 
arate represented Alexander no better than he 
^ompey, and announcing that the schoolmaster 
personate Judas Maccabeus, and his disciple, 
ules. After introducing the infant Hercules, 
mixture of Latin and English, Judas Mac- 
s vainly tries to play his own part, but is pre- 
i from doing so by numerous interruptions on 
art of the spectators, whose unkind remarks 

him away in despair before he has finished 

202 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

his speech. When the pedant comes on the stage 
as Hector, he, too, is mocked by all present, even by 
the princess, who claims she has been hugely en- 
tertained by their performance. Her commenda- 
tions merely amuse the other spectators, who keep up 
their gibes, until Costard blurts out that Don Ar- 
mado is not the hero he tries to appear, but merely 
a good for nothing wretch, unless he right poor 
Jaquenetta. Such an accusation results, naturally, 
in a vehement quarrel, which the gentlemen enjoy, 
until their attention is diverted. 

The interruption is caused by the arrival of a 
French courtier, who bears so sober a face that even 
before he can voice his message the princess ex- 
claims her father must be dead ! Such being, indeed, 
the case, Biron dismisses the Worthies, who seem 
glad to escape without further ado, although Ar- 
mado mutters he will * right himself like a soldier.' 
The king now tenderly implores the princess to 
tarry in Navarre a while longer, but she assures him 
they must start for home that very evening. Then, 
with courteous thanks for his fair entertainment, 
which her * new-sad soul * will not allow her to men- 
tion any further, she bids him farewell. 

The King of Navarre, who regrets her visit should 
have been marred by bad news, vows he will not 
annoy her at present with * the smiling courtesy of 
love,' although he fully intends to renew his * holy ' 
suit later on. It is, as Biron assures her, for her 
sake and that of her fair companions, that the king 
and his friends have violated their oaths, a fact of 
which the princess is fully aware, all the letters they 

Lov^s Labour^ 5 Lost 203 

have forwarded having been duly received. Still, 
as it IS not fitting to answer love missives at pres- 
ent, the princess gravely bids her suitor show his 
constancy by retiring into a hermitage for a year, 
spending his time there, remote from the pleasures 
of the world, and promising to reward him at the 
end of that period, in case he still feels the same de- 
votion for her. Meanwhile, she will pass the year 
mourning for her parent's death. Such a term of 
probation seems neither too long nor too hard a 
test for Navarre's love, for he solemnly rejoins: 
' If this, or more than this, I would deny, to flatter 
up these sudden powers of mine with rest, the sud- 
den hand of death close up mine eye ! ' 

Meantime, turning to Rosaline, Biron entreats 
an answer to his suit, only to be told that if he 
wishes to obtain her favour, he must spend a twelve- 
month tending the sick. Dumain is bidden wait a 
year, grow a beard, and prove he is to be trusted, 
while Maria coyly promises at the end of the year 
to lay aside her mourning and reward ' a faithful 

When Biron, unsatisfied, inquires from Rosaline 
exactly what he is to do, this lady informs him that, 
before she ever saw him, she had been told he was a 
man * replete with mocks, full of comparisons and 
wounding flouts.' She, therefore, enjoins upon him 
to * weed this wormwood ' from his fruitful brain if 
he would please her, and use his wit only * to enforce 
the painted impotent to smile,' and cheer and divert 
those who are in pain. At first Biron exclaims 
what she requires is an impossibility, but Rosaline 

204 Stories of Shakespeare^ s Comedies 

urges him to make the efiEort, and thus learn that ' a 
jest's propriety lies in the ear of him that hears it, 
never in the tongue of him that makes it.' 

When the ladies again express regrets and feure- 
wells, the King of Navarre and his friends assure 
them they will escort them part way, and all are 
about to leave the scene, when Don Armado an- 
nounces they have not heard him vow to turn farmer 
for Jaquenetta's sake, and have missed the best part 
of his entertainment, the dialogue in praise of the 
owl and the cuckoo. To gratify Don Armado, the 
king orders him to present the dialogue; where- 
upon schoolmaster, curate, disciple, and clown re- 
turn to the scene, respectively personating Winter 
and Spring, the owl and the cuckoo. This part of 
the play consists in a graceful spring song with a 
coarse refrain, and a descriptive ditty of winter's 
cold, during which the owl chants his mournful 

The curtain falls after the last rustic refrain, and 
just as the pedant wisely remarks that 'the words 
of Mercury are harsh after the songs of Apollo!' 
Then the king and ladies depart in one direction, 
while the extempore actors vanish in the other. 


Act I. When the curtain rises for the first act 
on an antechamber in Leontes' palace, in Sicilia, 
we overhear his councillor Camillo talking with a 
follower of the King of Bohemia. They are dis- 
cussing the meeting between their masters, who, 
after having been brought up together, and separated 
for years, have been enjoying a renewal of their 
former friendship. They also mention the little 
prince of Sicilia, Mamillius, who promises to become 
a fine man, although at present merely an engaging 

The second scene is played in a state apartment 
of the same palace, where Leontes enters with his 
family, guests, and train, and where Polixenes, King 
of Bohemia, courteously states it is time to bid his 
host farewell, and return to his own kingdom. Al- 
though Leontes warmly urges his friend to prolong 
his sojourn, his entreaties prove vain, until he turns 
to his wife, Hermione, suggesting she try her skill. 
With grace and eloquence, Hermione, at his request, 
uses such persuasive arguments that Polixenes finally 
yields, and enters into sprightly conversation with 
her, describing his happy youth with her husband, 
and his grief at their long separation. 

Meantime, Leontes, perceiving his wife's persua- 
sions have proved more efficacious than his own, ex- 


2o6 Stories of Shakespeare* s Comedies 

claims she never spoke to better purpose save when 
he wooed her, and she consented to become his wife! 
This praise so elates Hermione that she prizes her- 
self happy in having spoken twice to such good pur- 
pose that she earned a royal spouse, and a worthy 
friend. Her innocent joy, however, kindles the 
jealousy of Leontes, who suddenly fancies she is 
speaking too warmly of their guest. With keen 
suspicion he begins watching wife and guest, pre- 
tending meanwhile to play with his boy, and soon 
concludes they have some secret understanding. This 
discovery causes him such jealous pangs, that, seiz- 
ing Mamillius, he questions whether he is his off- 
spring? Although the child's marked resemblance 
to himself clearly proves his legitimacy, Leontes 
nevertheless deems his wife faithless, and frowns 
so portentously that he rouses the wonder of his 
guest, who asks Hermione what can cause her hus- 
band's irritation ? 

Urged to speak by wife and friend, Leontes pre- 
tends to have been dreaming over the past, when he, 
too, was a mere lad. Then he asks whether 
Polixenes loves Florizel as dearly as he does Mamil- 
lius, whereupon the King of Bohemia enthusiastically 
declares his boy makes ' a July day short as De- 
cember,' for him. A moment later, Leontes bids 
Hermione, if she loves him, show their guest all cour- 
tesy, and considers her unsuspecting obedience such 
hypocrisy that he mutters she is wooing his guest be- 
neath his very eyes. He, therefore, grimly watches 
them out of sight, speaks roughly to his boy, and 
murmurs that wives have often proved faithless, 

The fVinter^s Tale 207 

It he is suffering the usual lot of man- 
is Leontes' state of raging jealousy that it 
$ the child; and when the lad has gone, the 
ms to Camillo, his counsellor, and remarks 
est is going to stay. Because (Janiiflo replies 
so only on account of Heriiiione's entreaties, 
)us husband fancies he is already a laughing- 
)r the Sicilians. Drawing Camillo apart, 
e, he accuses him of being a coward or faith- 
ich latter suspicion the counScHec^an truth- 
ny. Still, knowing bis master's natuf^he 
tely bids Leontes point out in what way he 
isgressed, promising to atone for his short- 
as soon as possible. But, when Leontes ex- 
suspicions of the honour of guest and wife, 
waxes indignant that so noble a lady 
)e traduced. This causes Leontes to demand 
whether 'whispering is nothing?' But 
I describes the actions of his wife and guest 
s jaundiced point of view, Camillo rejoins 
offering from a diseased imagination, and 
!m to cure it betimes, lest the complaint be- 

is wrath at being misunderstood, Leontes 
amillo with lying, adding that he himself 
1 blind for months, during which his guest 
fe have systematically deceived him. Sud- 
le orders Camillo to poison his guest, and 
snge his honour; so, seeing him determined 
se of Polixenes, and dreading lest he entrust 
to some one else, Camillo pretends to con- 

2o8 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

sent, after providing, as he fancies, for the queen's 
restoration to favour. Warmly 'thanking Camillo, 
and assuring him that by this deed he will win half 
his master's heart, Leontes adds the grim threat 
that, in case he does not obey, he will lose his 

No sooner has Leontes left the room than Ca- 
millo muses upon Hermione's sad plight, and his 
own quandary, being compelled to turn poisoner or 
forfeit life. Even if others, similarly placed, have 
stricken down anointed kings, he feels he cannot 
soil his hands with such a crime, so decides to leave 
home. Just then Polixenes joins him, remarking 
that he seems to have fallen suddenly out of favour 
at the Sicilian court. He relates how Leontes has 
just passed him, with such looks of scorn that he 
was barely recognisable. Then, perceiving Camillo 
is aware of the reason for this strange conduct, 
Polixenes urges him to reveal all he knows. After 
some demur, Camillo advises the King of Bohemia 
to leave Sicilia secretly, because his host intends to 
slay him for making love to his wife. On hear- 
ing this absurd charge, Polixenes indignantly refutes, 
it, and conscious of irreproachable conduct, declares 
this is * the greatest infection that e'er was hearcl 
or read ! * 

When Camillo explains that his master has sworn 
his guest shall die, and has forced upon him a cnid 
alternative, Polixenes accepts his suggestion thstt 
they slip away together at nightfall, and, embarking 
on his waiting ship, escape from a land where it is no 
longer safe for them to sojourn. After promising 

The Winter^s Tale 209 

Camillo a warm welcome in Bohemia, Polixenes ex- 
presses compassion for the queen, whom, however, 
he dares not try to defend, lest he increase Leontes' 
jealous suspicions. 

Act II. When the curtain rises on the second 
act, we see a room in Leontes* palace, where Her- 
mione and her attendants are playing with Mamil- 
lius, who, like all the poet's children, is a fright- 
fully precocious lad. The ladies talk to him and 
before him as if he were grown up, teasing him in 
particular in regard to^the coming brother or sis- 
ter, who will soon supplant him in his mother's af- 
fections. Preferring Hermione to all the rest, the 
boy finally sits down beside her, and, after stating 
that * a sad tale's best for winter,' volunteers to tell 
one of his own. 

He has scarcely begun whispering it, when Le- 
ontes angrily enters with Antigonus, — ^his chief ad- 
viser, — ^and several retainers. He has just heard of 
Ac flight of Polixenes, who was seen vanishing be- 
hind the pines in Camillo 's company, and traced to 
"le vessel now disappearing from sight, and taking 
"iem beyond his reach. This report duly confirms 
*-^ntes in the belief that Camillo has betrayed him, 
*nd was party to his wife's wrong-doing. 

Snatching his boy from Hermione's arms, he 
hisses it is fortunate she never nursed him, and 
^hen she wonderingly inquires whether he can be 
Joking, orders the child removed from her custody. 
Then, after decreeing she shall never see Mamillius 
^gain, he sends her off to prison, accusing her of 
infidelity! Amazed by such a charge, Hermione 

2IO Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

proudly rejoins that had a villain said so, he would 
be base indeed, ere she humbly assures her angry 
spouse he is mistaken. But Leontes, too jealous to 
hear reason, goes on reviling her, although she 
realizes he will be sorely grieved when he comes to 
the ' clearer knowledge,' that he has disgraced her 
without cause. 

Unwilling to listen to her, Leontes banishes her 
to prison, where she entreats some of her women 
may accompany her, as she will soon need their care. 
Having obtained this favour, Hermione goes off to 
her cell without further protest than that she hopes, 
for the first time in her life, to see her husband 
sorry! , 

Horrified by the scene they have just witnessed, 
the lords, headed by Antigonus, now implore their 
monarch not to act rashly, reminding him that he 
attacks his own reputation as well as that of his 
wife and heir. When one of them offers to lay 
down his life in proof of Hermione's innocence, An- 
tigonus adds he will never trust his own consort 
again, if the queen has failed in her duty. These 
protests only exasperate Leontes, who insists upon 
carrying out his revenge in his own fashion, reiterat- 
ing that the flight of Polixenes and Camillo proves 
their guilt. When the courtiers feebly suggest he 
should seek advice on so weighty a question, Leontes 
says he has sent messengers to Apollo's temple at 
Delphi, and that their return with a sealed oracle 
will settle the matter. Hearing this, the lords are 
reassured, for they feel certain the gods will protect 
Hermione's innocence. 

The Winter^ s Tale 211 

We are next transferred to the prison, where 
Pauhna, wife of Antigonus, has come to visit Her- 
mione. When she asks for the jailor, he promptly 
appears, but only with difEculty yields to her en- 
treaties sufEciently to allow her to see one of the 
queen's attendants. The jailor, in introducing Emilia, 
announces he will have to be present at their con- 
ference, as the king has given orders that the pris- 
oners be constantly watched. In this momentous 
interview Emilia reveals how her poor mistress, 
shaken by past emotions, has prematurely given 
birth to a little daughter, and relates how she wel- 
comed her new treasure with the pathetic cry, * my 
poor prisoner, I am as innocent as you.' 

The visitor, fully convinced of this fact, now 
sends word to Hermione, that if she will only en- 
trust the babe to her, she will carry it to the king, 
in hopes that its innocence will plead for its wronged 
mother. This suggestion is seized with delight by 
Emilia, because her mistress has expressed a great 
desire that some friend should take this very step. 
With the assurance that she will use all her elo- 
quence to plead Hermione's cause, Paulina sends 
Emilia back to the queen, and bargains with the 
jailor to let the babe pass out of prison. 

The curtain next rises in a room in the palace, 
where Leontes is brooding over his wife's supposed 
adultery and his own terrible wrongs. Suddenly, he 
sends a servant to inquire for his son, Mamillius be- 
ing dangerously ill through fretting over his 
mother's disgrace. In fact, the child has been sink- 
ing so fast that his father is very anxious; but 

212 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

even while waiting for tidings, he reverts to the 
bitter thought that Camillo and Polixenes are laugh- 
ing at him, and grimly adds they should not do so, 
could he only reach them ! 

It is while he is rejoicing that his wife, at least, 
is still in his power, that a clamour arises in the 
antechamber, where Antigonus and other lords try 
to prevent Paulina from entering. Browbeating 
them all, Paulina forces her way into Leontes' pres- 
ence, closely followed by her protesting husband. 
Seeing her appear thus, Leontes discharges his wrath 
upon Antigonus, reminding him that he ordered 
Paulina should not be admitted under any pretext. 
When Antigonus tries to excuse himself under plea 
he could not prevent it, Leontes indignantly demands 
whether he is not able to rule his wife? But, with- 
out giving her husband a chance to reply, Paulina de- 
clares he cannot prevent her doing what honour re- 
quires, adding that she has come in the name of the 
good queen. Because Leontes starts angrily at this 
adjective, the tactless Paulina insists that, were she 
only a man, she would fight in Hermione's behalf; 
then, depositing the helpless babe at Leontes* feet, 
she reports that the good queen sends his little daugh- 
ter for his blessing. Starting back from the bundle 
as if it contained some loathsome object, Leontes 
furiously orders it removed, thereby rousing Pau- 
lina's indignation to such a pitch, that she gives him 
a vehement piece of her mind. In his paroxysm of 
rage, Leontes roars that the child is to be removed, 
while Paulina just as emphatically forbids any one 
touching it, attacking Leontes and all who try to 

/ ^-^ 

- : V f- 

I < 

•'Ai. ' 


*i r^. 


The Winter^ s Tale. 213 

silence her. But, although she persistently points 
out the child's resemblance to its father, and al- 
though Antigonus intercedes, Leontes refuses to 
acknowledge his offspring. His match in obstinacy, 
Paulina reiterates it is his, and leaves the apartment 
without it. 

When she has gone, Leontes vents some of his 
anger upon Antigonus by ordering him to have the 
child burned alive under penalty of death. Hop- 
ing to free himself from blame, Antigonus calls the 
other lords to witness how he tried to prevent his 
wife from approaching the king, and all present 
exculpate him and intercede for the babe. Because 
Antigonus volunteers to pawn what little blood he 
has left to save the child, Leontes promises its life 
shall be safe -provided Antigonus obeys his orders. 
Thus wringing a solemn oath from too trustful a 
servant, the cruel Leontes next bids Antigonus 
carry the babe off to some remote spot, and there 
abandon it, * without more mercy, to its own pro- 
tection and favour of the climate.' Bound by oath 
to fulfil these commands, Antigonus tenderly picks 
up the babe, and departs, fervently hoping wolves 
and bears, — ^who have occasionally shown tenderness 
for helpless human beings, — ^will prove more com- 
passionate to it than its father. While he goes out, 
Leontes, still a prey to jealous delusions, grimly 
mutters he * will not rear another's issue.' 

A few moments after Antigonus' departure, a 
servant announces the return of the messengers from 
Delphi, bringing Apollo's sealed oracle. Their re- 
turn, in twenty-three days' time, seems nothing short 

214 Stories of Shakespeare^ s Comedies 

of miraculous to Leontes, who summons all present 
to witness the trial of his disloyal wife, for he 
declares he will be just, although his heart will be a 
burden to him as long as she lives. 

Act hi. The third act opens just as the two 
Sicilian lords, sent in quest of the oracle, land in 
their native isle, and comment upon its delightful 
climate. Their minds are still full of their event- 
ful journey, which, they hope, may prove so suc- 
cessful, that the sealed oracle they bring will free 
the queen from all suspicion. 

The curtain next rises on the court of justice, 
where Leontes proclaims that, although it grieves 
him, he has been obliged to summon his wife to ac- 
count for her conduct. Then, the prisoner appears, 
still weak and pale, supported by Paulina and other 
attendants, and an officer reads aloud an indictment 
accusing Hermione of conspiring with Camillo to 
slay her husband in order to marry Polixenes. 
Sadly rejoining it is useless to plead not guilty, 
since every word she utters is accounted a false- 
hood, Hermione bids them consider her past life, 
urging that if she ever said or did anything to give 
rise to suspicion, she wishes to know it, as she has 
always been faithful to the husband who accuses 
her so wantonly. When Leontes contemptuously 
retorts that criminals of her kind never lack the ef- 
frontery to excuse themselves, she rejoins that has 
never been one of her characteristics, adding that she 
loved Polixenes only as her duty required, and that 
her persuasions to him were made at her husband's 
request. As for Camillo, she warmly defends him as 

The Winter^ 5 Tale 215 

an hone^ man, and states she cannot conceive why 
he secretly left court. 

When Leontes angrily insists that she knew of 
Camillo's departure, Hermione fails to understand 
him, dnd when he repeats that she is ' past all 
shame/ she pathetically states she is unhappy enough, 
having been robbed of her place as wife, deprived of 
the sight of her son and of her new-born treasure, 
to call forth no further cruelty on his part. Then, 
in her desperation, she appeals to Apollo, and, while 
the messengers are sent for, exclaims that her father, 
the Emperor of Russia, would pity her were he to see 
her now ! 

At this juncture, the messengers appear, and sol- 
emnly testify that they have been to Delphi, and 
that the oracle they bring was handed to them, 
sealed, by Apollo's priest. In the presence of the 
assembly, an ofScer breaks the seal, and reads aloud 
a statement declaring Hermione chaste, Polixenes 
blameless, Camillo loyal, Leontes a jealous tyrant, 
the innocent babe his offspring, and decreeing he 
shall * live without an heir, if that which is lost be 
not found.* In their relief at Hermione's acquittal, 
the lords give spontaneous thanks to Apollo, but 
Leontes, still too angry to credit the oracle, hotly 
declares it is a falsehood. 

He is just ordering the trial to proceed as if no 
oracle had been given, when a servant rushes in, re- 
porting that Mamillius has died, news which causes 
the father to realize that Apollo is angry, and the 
poor mother to swoon from grief. Vowing this last 
blow has killed her mistress, Paulina gladly obeys 

2i6 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

Leontes when he bids her bear the queen away and 
try and revive her. 

Brought by calamity to his senses, Leontes now 
humbly begs Apollo's pardon for failing to respect 
his oracle, promises to be reconciled to Polixenes, to 
recall Camillo, — ^whose reputation he clears by re- 
vealing how basely he tried to induce him to 
poison his guest, — ^and to * new woo * his queen. 
Scarcely has Leontes finished this recantation, when 
Paulina staggers in full of woe, to announce that 
Leontes* cruel behaviour has slain his wife! In 
reviling him, she pitilessly sets forth how many lives 
have been blasted by his jealousy, for she rightly 
ascribes to him not only the death of his son and that 
of his wife, but the exposure of his daughter. Un- 
able to believe Hermione dead, Leontes forces 
Paulina to repeat her tidings and describe the tests 
which proved life extinct. Then, conscious of de- 
serving the severe punishments Paulina ruthlessly 
calls down upon him, Leontes displays such grief 
that even this accuser pities him and begs his for- 
giveness, declaring she reviled him so hotly only 
because of her love for his wife and children. 
In his grief, Leontes begs to be taken where the 
corpses lie, vowing one grave shall hold them both, 
and that he will water it with his tears, for he is now 
a thoroughly repentant, broken-hearted man. 

The curtain next rises on the desert coast of Bo- 
hemia, where Antigonus has just arrived with the 
unhappy babe he must abandon in obedience to die 
king's orders. Besides, in a vision which visited him 
on shipboard, Hermione herself bade him call the 

The Winter's Tale 217 

babe Perdita, and expose her in Bohemia. Con- 
vinced by this apparition that Hermione is dead, and 
that Perdita is Polixenes' daughter — ^since she has 
been sent to his realm, — Antigonus lays down the 
babe, and has barely bidden it a touching farewell, 
when a huge bear comes toward him. Antigonus 
and this bear have scarcely rushed out of sight, 
when a shepherd appears, grumbling that youths 
should be suppressed between the ages of ten and 
twenty-three, as during that time they are prone 
only to mischief. While talking thus, he stumbles 
across the abandoned babe, whom he deems the il- 
legitimate offspring of some youthful couple. 

While he is investigating his find, his son, — ^who is 
dubbed a clown in the play, — -rejoins him, crying he 
has just beheld two awful sights, a bear devouring 
a stranger, who only had time to cry his name was 
Antigonus, and a ship sinking in a tempest before 
his very eyes! Then his father calls his attention 
to the babe, who is robed in rich garments, and has 
jewels and gold enough beside her to make them rich 
as long as they live. The father finally concludes to 
take the foundling home, while the son goes off to 
ascertain whether the bear has finished dining on 
Antigonus, and whether he has left any remains to 
be buried. 

Act IV. The fourth act opens with the appari- 
tion of Father Time, who proclaims that sixteen 
years have elapsed since the previous events, and 
that another turn of his glass will reveal how Le- 
ontes has repented of his jealousy, and how his 
daughter has grown up in Bohemia, where she is 

2i8 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

now beloved by Prince Florizel, although he deems 
her naught but a shepherd lass. 

The curtain rises on Polixenes' palace, just as he 
IS conversing with Camillo, who is anxious to re- 
turn to Sicilia, now that he no longer need fear Le- 
on tes* wrath. During his sojourn in Bohemia, Ca- 
millo has been Polixenes' chief adviser, so he con- 
sents to postpone his return home, on hearing the 
King of Bohemia still needs his aid. It transpires 
that Polixenes is troubled by a report that his son 
is in love with a shepherdess, and that, disguised, he 
wishes to attend the sheep-shearing festival with 
Camillo, and thus discover whether the prince is 
seriously entangled. 

We next see a road near the shepherd's cottage, 
along which strolls Autolycus, the peddler, singing 
a merry song. When it is finished, he murmurs that, 
having been born under the planet Mercury, he is 
justified in stealing all he can. Autolycus is the 
archtype of a merry rogue, and no sooner sees the 
clown, than he deems him a likely subject for his 
mischievous arts. Meanwhile, the clown is labori- 
ously trying to calculate how much his fleeces will 
bring, and to remember all the articles his adopted 
sister bade him purchase for the sheep-shearing 
festival, where all their neighbours arc to be enter- 

As the clown draws near, Autolycus grovels on 
the ground, loudly calling for aid. When the in- 
nocent rustic compassionately approaches, he is im- 
plored to remove the sufferer's clothes, but avers 
that, dirty and ragged as they seem, they are better 

ThelEinlei^Jlale 219 

than none. The rogue, however, rejoins that he has 
been robbed and beaten, his good apparel taken from 
him, and nothing but rags left to cover him. Not 
only does the gullible clown believe every word 
Autolycus says, but gently helps him to rise, little 
suspecting that while he does so his pocket is clev- 
erly picked. After comforting Autolycus, — ^who 
tells a most extraordinary tale, — the clown goes ofl 
to do his errands, while the rascal congratulates him- 
self upon having robbed him, and having learned 
about the sheep-shearing feast, where he will be 
able to practise some of his arts. He, therefore, 
leaves the scene, singing how 'a merry heart goes 
all the day, your sad tires in a mile-a.' 

We are now transferred to the shepherd's holding, 
where Prince Florizel, in guise of a rural swain, is 
wooing Perdita, who playfully tries to turn aside 
his compliments. When she states, however, that 
she trembles lest his father should discover them by 
accident, and resent all this secrecy, Florizel avers 
that the gods, themselves, assumed disguises, and 
quotes instances where deities transformed them- 
selves into beasts. Besides, he is so earnest in his 
wooing that he tells Perdita, if he cannot be hers, 
he will never marry at all, and implores her not to 
look sad when so many guests are coming, but to 
wear as cheerful a countenance as if this was to be 
their wedding day. 

A host of shepherds and shepherdesses now come 
trooping in, the disguised Polixenes and Camillo 
among them. Ushering in his guests fussily, the old 
shepherd chides his adopted daughter for not being 

220 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

everywhere at once, like his wife on similar occa- 
sions, and bids her welcome the strangers. With 
modest grace, Perdita offers the strangers flowers, 
and Polixenes, seizing this opportunity, begins to 
converse with her, pointing out that different kinds 
of flowers do not blend together successfully. Al- 
though only half understanding his veiled allusions, 
the maiden lovingly discourses about her garden, 
disclosing, while doing so, the delicacy and purity 
of her mind. Her talk not only enraptures Florizel, 
who hovers close beside her, but wrings from 
Polixenes the admission that she is * the prettiest 
low-born lass that ever ran on the green sward," 
and that all she says and does, smacks ' of something 
greater than herself, too noble for this place.* This 
opinion is shared by Camillo, who happily dubs Per- 
dita a * queen of curds and cream,' ere the music 
strikes up and the young people present engage in a 

Meanwhile, their elders step aside to watch this 
performance, the old shepherd garrulously informing 
Polixenes that the swain with whom his daughter 
is dancing is deeply in love with her, and slyly 
adding that he does not think there is ' half a kiss 
to choose who loves the other best.* He also hints 
that the man who marries Perdita will be far bet- 
ter off than he expects, little dreaming that the 
youth he points out is Prince Florizel, and that his 
interlocutor is the king. 

At this point, a servant enters, enthusiastically de- 
scribing a peddler who has just arrived with choice 
wares. When this vendor is ushered in, he chants 

The Winter^ s Tale 221 

the list of the goods he has for sale with all the 
gusto of the born bagman. Shepherds and shep- 
herdesses crowd around him, chattering among them- 
selves, calling out for various articles of apparel, 
and especially for ballads, for which they seem to 
have a particular fancy. Then, discovering one for 
three voices, set to a tune they know, they gaily sing 
It, ere the peddler renews the enumeration of his 

It is in the midst of this lively hubbub that the 
servant proclaims the arrival of a party of Satyrs, 
who enter dancing gaily, and indulge in mad jumps 
which excite great admiration among the spectators. 
Taking advantage of the general confusion, 
Polixenes now addresses his son, — ^who does not 
recognise him, — and remarks that when he was 
young, he lavished tokens upon his lady-love, 
whereas the young man has bought naught for Per- 
dita. The prince proudly rejoins that his beloved 
' prizes not such trifles as these,' but looks to him 
for gifts *lock'd up in his heart.' Then, seizing 
Perdita's hand, he calls the stranger guest to wit- 
ness that he loves this fair damsel, who satisfies his 
every fancy. Polixenes admits that this declaration 
of love sounds genuine, and, hearing Perdita timidly 
confess she fully returns it, the old shepherd sug- 
gests that the young couple be betrothed, promising 
to bestow upon his daughter a portion equal to the 

The contract is about to be sealed when 
Polixenes interferes, reminding them it will not be 
legal imless the young man's father consent. Still 

222 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

protected by his disguise, he asks whether Florizers 
father is incapable or childish, only to hear the 
prince boast his sire enjoys better health and strength 
than most men of his age. When Polixenes sug- 
gests, that in that case, this father might feel of- 
fended should his son mate without consulting him, 
a discussion arises whether the match should be 
postponed. When the prince, however, insists upon 
an immediate betrothal, Polixenes suddenly reveals 
himself, declaring he will never allow this marriage, 
and angrily threatening to have Perdita's beauty 
marred, so she may no longer bewitch his ofiFspring. 
It is breathing such terrifying threats that he leaves 
the scene. 

The king having gone, Perdita wails that, although 
strongly tempted to remind Polixenes that * the self- 
same sun that shines upon his court hides not his 
visage from their cottage but looks on all alive,* she 
will now return to her * ewes and weep.* Mean- 
time, the shepherd, upon whom it has dawned, at 
last, that the prince has been wooing his daughter, 
steals out to meditate over the disgrace which threat- 
ens him, while Florizel assures Camillo he is not at 
all afraid of his father. Deeming it wiser, Florizel, 
Perdita, and both shepherds avoid the king's sight 
until * the fury of his highness settle,' Camillo sug- 
gests that they flee to Sicilia. By this time he feels 
satisfied that Perdita must be some fair princess, 
and declares that, when her birth becomes known, n6 
further objection will exist to their union. For 
that reason he urges flight, offering all necessary 
aid, and pledging himself to use his influence to 

The Winter's Tale ii'i 

bring Polixenes to a better frame of mind. Over- 
joyed with the prospect of escaping from his father's 
wrath, and especially of securing Perdita against 
the terrible fate threatening her, Florizel consents 
to depart, although he wonders how he will be re- 
ceived in Sicilia, when he appears there without such 
a train as befits his rank. 

While Camillo and the prince indulge in an aside, 
the peddler appears, gleefully soliloquising upon the 
fashion in which he has picked pockets and fleeced 
the rustics, the sheep-shearing having proved a profit- 
able field of action for him. As he concludes, Ca- 
millo states he will pave the way by letter for 
Florizel's arrival in Sicilia, and that King Leontes 
will doubtless plead his cause with Polixenes. 
Then, becoming aware of Autolycus* presence, 
Camillo suggests that he and the prince change gar- 
ments, which they immediately do, and that Per- 
dita, in disguise, hurry down to the seashore to em- 
hark. Although he fancies Polixenes will pursue 
the fugitives, Camillo intends to accompany him, 
as this will give him the desired opportunity to 
bestow good advice upon him, and revisit his na- 
tive land, for whose sight he has * a woman's long- 

The rogue, after listening attentively to all that 
IS said in his presence, and watching Florizel, Per- 
^iu, and Camillo depart, shrewdly concludes the 
Pnnce is meditating some iniquity, which he will 
*^rther by keeping it secret. Then, the shepherd 
^d his son re-enter, the youth urging his father 
^^ tell the king that Perdita is only a foundling, and 

224 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

thus divert royal wrath from their heads. Over- 
hearing them state they are bound for the palace to 
exhibit the garments found with Perdita, the rogue, 
who has uttered sundry asides, suddenly volunteers 
to accompany the rustic pair thither. They gladly 
accept this offer, as his clothes proclaim him a man 
of wealth and influence, a delusion he diligently 
fosters. But, after wringing from the simpletons 
the admission that there is a secret connected with 
Perdita which they alone can reveal, the rogue so in- 
timidates them with descriptions of the tortures 
awaiting them, that they consent to follow his ad- 
vice. He, therefore, proposes to smuggle them 
secretly on board of the prince's ship, and there,— 
for a consideration, — to arrange that their confession 
be graciously heard. This bargain concluded, 
Autolycus sends the shepherd and his son on ahead, 
and follows them, exclaiming Fortune will not allow 
him to be honest! 

Act V. The fifth act opens in Leontes' palace, 
where one of his lords tells him that, after long 
years of penance, he should *do as the heavens have 
done,' and forgive himself. Leontes' sadness, how- 
ever, is too deep-seated for such consolations, so he 
assures this courtier that, remembering Hermiones 
perfections, and his wrongs toward her, no joy re- 
mains for him in this world. This sad admission 
is overheard by Paulina, who rejoins that even if 
Leontes were to take the perfections of all the 
women in the world and mass them together, he 
could never create so perfect a wife as the one he 
killed, a statement which renews his remorse. 

The Winter's Tale 225 

When a courtier suggests that, as the king has no 
heir, he should cease mourning, and marry some 
new coifipanion with whom he might spend happy 
days, Paulina, displeased by his advice, again urges 
no woman would equal Hermione, and that such a 
move would be vain, since the oracle asserted Le- 
ontes would have no heir until the lost child were 
found. Because the king has not forgotten his wife, 
and wishes he had followed honest Paulina's advice 
sooner, he now swears he will never marry, until he 
can find a woman so like Hermione that he can- 
not detect any difference between them. 

They are still conversing, when the announce- 
ment is made that Prince Florizel, son of Polixenes, 
has landed in Sicilia with his princess, and begs to be 
received. This unexpected arrival amazes Leontes, 
who is further surprised to learn the prince is ac- 
companied only by his wife, a princess whom the 
messenger enthusiastically describes as *the most 
peerless piece of earth that e*er sun shone bright on,' 
thereby rousing Paulina's ever ready jealousy on 
Hermione's behalf. 

The moment seeming inauspicious for dwelling 
upon the perfections of his dead wife, Leontes pro- 
poses to forget his own griefs by welcoming the 
newcomers. He, therefore, bids some of his 
courtiers go and get them, and when Paulina mur- 
murs that Prince Florizel and Mamillius were just 
of the same age, sorrowfully exclaims, * thou know- 
'st he dies to me again when talk'd of.' A mo- 
ment later Florizel and Perdita are ushered in and 
warmly greeted by Leontes, who concludes the 

226 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

prince's mother was a faithful wife, as his strong 
resemblance to his father leaves no- doubt in regard 
to his parentage. Then, bidding his guests wel- 
come, Leontes warns them they have come to a sor- 
rowful court, for he has lost two children, who, had 
they lived, would have been just their age. When 
he proceeds to inquire for Polixenes, Florizel states 
how his father sent him first to Africa to secure his 
princess, then hither to Sicilia to visit his friend, 
his suite meanwhile returning to Bohemia. 

Leontes has just invited the young couple to 
linger with him as long as they please, when a lord 
hurries in, bringing greetings from Polixenes, and 
summoning Leontes to ' attach his son, who has his 
dignity and duty both cast off,* by fleeing from Bo- 
hemia with a shepherd's daughter! On hearing 
these words, Leontes eagerly inquires where the 
King of Bohemia may be, and is amazed to learn 
he has just landed in Sicilia, but is detained by a 
sudden encounter with Perdita's father and brother. 

Concluding Caniillo has betrayed him. Prince 
Florizel reviles him, while Perdita, who has been 
silent hitherto, wails that spies have been set upon 
them to prevent the celebration of their marriage! 
These words revealing that they are not yet united, 
Leontes inquires whether Perdita is really the daugh- 
ter of a king? As Florizel only rejoins she will be 
when she is his wife, Leontes informs the youth he 
has been undutiful, and regrets his choice is not * so 
rich in worth as in beauty.* At these words Flor- 
izel implores the humbled Perdita to remember that, 
although Fortune pursues them, their love is unal- 

The Wtnter^s Tale 227 

terable, and, turning to Leontes, begs him to plead 
in their favour, for his father wilL grant any favour 
his friend asks. Fascinated by Perdita, Leontes ex- 
claims he would fain ask for her himself, when Pau- 
lina hastens to remind him that the queen at.Per- 
dita's age was even more lovely. Insisting that Per- 
dita strangely reminds him of his dead wife, Leontes 
volunteers to go and meet Polixenes, for he now 
feels equally friendly toward him and toward his 

It is in front of Leontes' palace that a dialogue 
next takes place between Autolycus and a gentleman, 
the peddler eagerly asking whether his interlocutor 
was present when the shepherd related his story, 
and exhibited what he had found in the bundle with 
the abandoned babe? The courtier whom he ques- 
tions admits that the king and Camillo were amazed, 
and when another of his companions appears, eagerly 
inquires of him whether any further discoveries have 
been made ? The newcomer joyfully proclaims that 
the oracle is fulfilled, for Leontes' daughter is found, 
— ^news which Paulina's steward soon confirms, 
stating that Hermione's mantle and jewels were 
easily recognised, as well as the letter signed by An- 
tigonus. When asked whether he witnessed the 
meeting between the two kings, the courtier regrets 
having missed it, as the good steward informs him 
it was a grand sight, the encounter between the 
father and daughter having been touching in the 
extreme. After describing the thanks lavished on 
the shepherd, — ^who saved the babe from death, — 
he repeats the clown's account of Antigonus' death 

228 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

and of the wreck of his vessel, which explains why 
Paulina never received any tidings of the husband 
she mourned so faithfully. Still, it is said, the re- 
union was not unmarred by sorrow, for when Per- 
dita learned how her beautiful mother died, she 
wept freely, and expressed a keen desire to know 
what she looked like when alive. Then only Pau- 
lina revealed she had a statue of Hermione, painted 
by Julio Romano, of such life-like fidelity that it 
might be mistaken for the living queen. As both 
father and daughter seemed anxious to view it, 
Paulina invited them and all the court to visit it 
in her country house on the morrow. 

While the rest now leave, the peddler lingers upon 
the scene, congratulating himself upon having 
brought the old shepherd and his son to Sicilia, but 
regretting that seasickness prevented an earlier 
revelation of their secret, as he would then have 
reaped the benefit of Florizel's gratitude. While he 
is soliloquising, he is joined by the shepherd and his 
son, the latter glorying in the title of gentleman, 
which has just been bestowed upon him, and in re- 
gard to which he accepts the peddler's mock homage. 

The last scene is played in the chapel of a de- 
serted house, which Paulina has secretly visited twice 
a day for years. The royal party are ushered in, 
while the king is thanking his hostess for all she 
has done for him and his, and expressing eagerness 
to behold her wonderful statue. After assuring him 
that this work of art is so lifelike it has to be kept 
apart, Paulina draws aside a curtain, and reveals the 
living Hermione, standing on a pedestal, as if she 

The Winter^s Tale 229 

were a statue. Such is the effect produced, that 
silence reigns, and it is only when invited to express 
his opinion that Leontes, full of remorse, implores 
the image to speak, were it even to chide him. 
Then he pronounces it a perfect likeness of his 
queen, although somewhat older than when he last 
saw her. Hearing this, Paulina avers the sculptor 
wisely represented Hermione as she would have 
been had she lived among them until now. 

While lost in contemplation of this wonderful 
likeness, Leontes murmurs Hermione looked thus 
when he wooed her, and that he is more remorseful 
than ever for his vile suspicions. Meanwhile, Per- 
dita, also overcome by the sight, craves permission to 
kiss the statue's hand, but Paulina objects that the 
colors are not yet dry, and that hence it cannot be 
touched. While Camillo and Polixenes are offer- 
ing consolations to the grieving Leontes, Paulina 
tries to draw the curtain, saying that the statue 
has so impressed them that presently they will 
imagine it is moving. But Leontes beseeches her 
to let him gaze upon his wife's image a while 
longer, exclaiming that the blood seems to circulate 
in its veins, and that its lips and eyes are alive. 
When Paulina again tries to hide her masterpiece, 
lie restrains her, declaring he must embrace his wife, 
although Paulina forbids. Then, seeing she cannot 
entice him away, the hostess suddenly exclaims if 
lie is sufficiently prepared for a great surprise, she 
^vrill, by lawful magic arts, induce the statue to 
descend from its pedestal and take him by the hand. 

Eager for such a revelation of magic power, Le- 

230 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

ontes urges her to make use of it; so, after soft 
music has been played, Paulina bids the statue step 
down among them. At her command Hermione 
advances toward them, silently offering her hand to 
Leontes, who no sooner touches it than he discovers 
it is warm! A moment later, his beloved wife is 
clasped in his arms, and Paulina assures the won- 
dering Polixenes and Camillo that Hermione is in- 
deed alive, although she has been deemed dead so 
many years. 

The recognition between husband and wife over, 
Paulina urges Perdita to claim her mother's bless- 
ing, which blessing Hermione joyfully bestows, 
stating she has lived in hopes of seeing this beloved 
child, as Paulina has sustained her courage by con- 
stantly repeating Apollo's oracle. 

The faithful Paulina now urges her guests to 
leave her and enjoy their happiness, for she alone 
still has cause to grieve, having just learned how 
her husband was devoured by the bear. 

Unwilling that any one should sorrow while he is 
joyful, Leontes bestows Paulina upon the faithful 
Camillo, knowing two such worthy people will be 
happy together. Then, turning toward friend and 
wife, who dare not look at each other, he humbly 
begs their pardon for having suspected them of 
wrong-doing, welcomes his new son-in-law, and de- 
parts with all present, remarking that they will 
question each other at leisure, and thus make up 
the gap of time * since first we were dissevered.' 
With these words the curtain falls. 


I. The curtain rises before Page's house, 
Justice Shallow, his cousin Slender, and the 

pastor, Sir Hugh Evans, are busy talking, 
ustice declares that in spite of their persua- 
he will no longer be abused by Sir John 
f, and is supported in all he says by a show 
d knowledge on his cousin's part. When 
V boasts he has signed * Esquire ' for the past 
hundred years. Slender avers all *his suc- 
gone before him ' and * all his ancestors that 
ifter him' can claim the same privilege, as 
5 sport a coat of arms, in describing which 
r confuses * luces' (a species of fish), with 
ect the Welsh parson characterises as a * beast 
r to man ! " 

conversation continues thus with malaprop- 
om Slender and quaint Welsh expressions on 
t of Evans, who finally remarks he never saw 
tier girl than Mistress Anne Page, whom 
r describes as speaking * small like a woman.' 
e this damsel is to inherit seven hundred 

when seventeen, Evans suggests all further 
ions be dropped and a marriage arranged be- 
her and Slender, who is not averse to a bride 
jch great expectations. All, therefore, decide 


232 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

to visit Master Page, although Shallow knows he 
will encounter there his foe, Sir John Falstafi. 

A moment later. Page admits them, and, after ex- 
changing greetings, thanks the Justice for sending 
him some venison. Closely imitating his cousin, 
who inquires about Mistress Page's health. Slender 
asks whether his host's greyhound won the last 
race? Unable to restrain his spleen any longer, 
Shallow now demands whether Sir John Faktaff 
is within, and is just insisting he has been wronged, 
when this knight joins them. In reply to his jocose 
inquiry whether the Justice intends to complain to 
the king. Shallow angrily rejoins that Falstafi has 
beaten his men, killed his deer, and broken open his 
lodge! These charges the unrepentant culprit 
doesn't deny, but impudently adds that he also broke 
Slender's head. The latter admits this fact, al- 
though claiming he owes a greater grudge to Bar- 
dolph, Nym, and Pistol, for carrying him off to the 
tavern, and picking his pockets while he was drunk. 
Turning to these men, who have entered with him, 
Falstafi demands whether this accusation is true? 
So they begin abusing and baiting their former 
victim, who blusters he will never get drunk again, 
as long as he lives, or will do so only in the company 
of God-fearing men, and not in that of knaves. 

At that moment Anne Page brings in wine; and 
is closely followed by her mother and Mistress Ford. 
Overcome by the appearance of the beautiful maiden, 
Slander gets hopelessly tangled in his speech, while 
Falstafi jauntily offers to kiss Mistress Ford. Be- 
ing invited to share the venison pasty, all now fol- 

The Merry Wives of Windsor 233 

low Page out of the room, except Shallow, Slender, 
and Evans, who linger behind. The young suitor 
is ardently wishing he had his book of songs and son- 
nets with him, when his servant Simple appears, 
from whom he inquires where it may be? The mat- 
ter of marriage is next discussed, Slender expressing 
his readiness to espouse Anne Page, although he 
will not admit he loves her. All he will do, is to 
promise to marry whoever his cousin selects, trusting 
that * upon familiarity will grow more contempt,' 
an answer the Welsh parson deems eminently dis- 

The lady in question now re-enters, announcing 
dinner is on the table, and her father awaiting his 
guests; Shallow and Evans, therefore, enter the 
dining-room, while Simple draws aside. Because 
Slender hesitates to enter, Anne kindly states she 
cannot go in without him; but, while this suitor, 
blunderingly trying to be polite, reveals his paucity 
of wit. Page becomes impatient and appears in his 
turn to urge him to come in. After vain efforts 
to induce his hostess to precede him. Slender yields 
at last to her desires, remarking, * TU rather be un- 
mannerly than troublesome.' 

They have been in the dining-room only a short 
time when the Welshman comes out to bid Simple 
carry a letter to Mistress Quickly, housekeeper to 
Dr. Caius, — a woman well acquainted with Anne 
Page, — ^wherein he bespeaks her furtherance of Slen- 
der's suit. This done, the Welshman gleefully re- 
turns to partake of desert. 

In the next scene we are transferred to the inn, 

234 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

where FalstafiF is talking to his companions and 
host, all of whom greatly admire him. Unable 
longer to maintain four followers, Falstaff decides 
that Bardolph shall become a tapster, while he 
proposes to renew his exchequer by paying court to 
some rich ladies in town. Next he fatuously de- 
scribes how both Mistress Ford and Mistress Page 
have gazed upon him with favour, and deems he can 
derive good entertainment from them, as they are 
ladies of means. To reach his ends, he has penned 
letters to them, which his page Robin is to deliver, 
and which, he feels confident, will speed his wooing. 

Falstaff has barely gone out with the page to see 
his orders properly carried out, when Pistol and 
Nym determine to profit by these confidences, — Nym 
by revealing his master's scheme to Page, while Pis- 
tol does the same by Ford, whose jealous tempera- 
ment is the talk of the town. 

We next perceive a room in Dr. Caius' house, 
where Mistress Quickly, bustling about, orders the 
man-servant to watch for his master's coming, and 
promises to reward him with posset. When he has 
gone to earn it, she describes him to Simple, — ^who 
has just entered, — as a worthy man much * given to 
prayer.' Then, inquiring who Simple may be, and 
learning he is sent by Slender, she induces him to 
describe his master, whose beard he terms * a little 
yellow beard, a Cain-coloured beard.* Mistress 
Quickly has just expressed her readiness to favour 
Anne Page's new suitor, when the servant reports his 
master is coming; so not wishing her visitor to be 
seen, — for Dr. Caius also wishes to marry Anne,— 

The Merry Wives of Windsor 235 

ress Quickly hides Simple in the closet, and then 
es about, talking to her fellow-servant. The 
r, on coming in, bids his housekeeper get a 
box from the closet, which order she hastens 
ley, congratulating herself upon the fact her 
T did not go in quest of it himself, and thus 
^er Simple. 

broken English, — for he is a Frenchman, — 
converses with his housekeeper, ere he sum- 
his man-servant to escort him to court. He 
)ut to depart, when he suddenly remembers 
simples in his closet, and, going to get them 
If, finds Simple hiding there ! The French doc- 
)w flies into such a rage that Mistress Quickly 
; Simple is honest, and came here to bring her 
sage. Little by little it transpires that Simple 
lespatched by the Welsh parson to bespeak 
ess Quickly's offices in Slender's behalf, as he 
cious to marry Anne Page. This discovery 
js Caius, who, however, to his housekeeper's 
se, merely sits down to write a letter. Then 
issive finished, the peppery doctor orders Simple 
iver it to Sir Hugh, whom he is challenging, 
/hose throat he proposes to cut for meddling 
the lady he loves. After Simple has departed 
is errand, Mistress Quickly, hoping to pacify 
ate master, assures him Anne loves him, and 
es him depart with his man. 
t alone. Mistress Quickly murmurs she knows 
about Anne's mind than any other woman in 
sor, and doesn't fancy her master will ever 
ir! She is still talking to herself on this sub- 


236 Stories of Shakespeare^ s Comedies 

ject, when Fenton appears, also in regard to Anne, 
who, Mistress Quickly assures him, loves him dearly. 
In proof of this she playfully asserts Anne conversed 
with her for an hour in regard to the wart above 
his eye, and says she never laughs so heartily as when 
in her company, although, of late, Anne has been 
inclined to ' allicholy and musing.' Mistress Quick- 
ly 's report so encourages Fenton, that he bestows a 
munificent tip upon her, begging her to plead his 
cause whenever the opportunity offers. He has no 
sooner gone, however, than Mistress Quickly as- 
serts Anne does not love him at all, but that it be- 
hooves her to make as much profit as she can 
out of the young lady's numerous suitors* 

Act II. The second act opens in Mistress Page's 
house, just as she wonders that having escaped love- 
letters in her youth, she should be favoured with 
them now. She then reads aloud a missive, in 
which Falstaff professes great devotion, winding up 
his amorous tirade with the ridiculous rhyme, * Thine 
own true knight, by day or night, or any kind of 
light, with all his might for thee to fight! ' This 
epistle both amuses and angers Mistress Page, who 
wonders how the fat knight dares address her thus, 
having seen her only a few times. Indignant, yet 
wishing to punish Falstaff for such impudence, she 
decides to make him an object of general ridicule. 

She is still pondering over the affair, when Mis- 
tress Ford enters, all in a flutter, she, too, having re- 
ceived a love-letter, the exact counterpart of the 
one her friend holds in her hand. After a few 
preliminaries, Mistress Ford blurts out her secret, and 

The Merry Wives of Windsor 237 

bits her letter, which Mistress Page is amazed 
ind a mere copy of her own. She, therefore, 
both missives beneath her friend's eyes, and be- 
b her aid in securing revenge. Although more 

willing, Mistress Ford knows she will have to 
lutious, for her husband is jealous, a fault from 
h Mistress Page joyfully acquits her spouse, 
hey have just retired to consult over plans for 
ige, when Page and Ford enter, conversing with 
il and Nym, who have evidently been betraying 
:aff's amorous plans. Because he is jealous, 

fumes over the tidings and dismisses Pistol in 
g;e, while Page calmly refuses to believe any- 
; detrimental to his wife. Just as Ford de- 

to seek Falstaff and demand satisfaction, the 
women enter, and Mistress Ford tendeVly in- 
s why her husband seems so melancholy? 
eantime. Mistress Page perceives Mistress 
kly coming, and whispers to her friend they can 
ler as * messenger to this paltry knight.' They, 
fore, warmly welcome the newcomer, who has 

to visit Anne, and lead her away, imploring 
to grant them an hour's conversation. The 
en having gone, the men resume their dis- 
3n, Ford emitting all manner of jealous sus- 
is, while Page feels confident Falstaff will en- 
ter nothing further than sharp words, if he at- 
t to make love to his wife, 
bey are still talking, when the innkeeper enters, 
wed by Justice Shallow, with whom he is laugh- 
3ver the coming duel between the Welsh par- 
and the French doctor. After inviting Ford 

238 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

and Page to witness it, the host reveals he has ap- 
pointed different places to both principals, whose 
rage will be part of the fun. Seizing this oppor- 
tunity, Ford now draws the host apart to question 
him in regard to Falstaff, while Page does the same 
with Shallow. Then, under pretext of a jest, Ford 
persuades the innkeeper to present him to Falstaff 
as Master Brook, that very day. 

When all the rest have left. Ford concludes 
that, although Page trusts in his wife's virtue, he 
mistrusts his spouse so sorely that he will sound the 
fat knight in disguise, for he argues * if I find 
her honest, I lose not my labour; If she be other- 
wise, 'tis labour well bestowed ! * 

The curtain next rises on a room in the Garter 
Inn, where Falstaff refuses to loan Pistol any more 
funds, boasting how he has saved him and Nym 
from prison many times, and forgiven their many 
peculations. It soon transpires, however, that this 
forgiveness was not disinterested, since he shared in 
the profits thus made. 

Falstaff is hotly reviling his man, when the page 
reports a woman wishes to speak to him. A mo- 
ment later Mistress Quickly enters, and begs for a 
private hearing. When Falstaff carelessly remarks 
he has no secrets from his men. Mistress Quickly 
draws him a trifle aside, and informs him that, al- 
though Dr. Caius' housekeeper, she has been sent by 
Mistress Ford to say his letter has been received. 
Her husband will be absent from home between ten 
and eleven on the morrow, when he can view the 
picture * he wots of.' This message is delivered with 

The Merry Wives of Windsor 239 

an infinite amount of repetition, sly innuendo, and 
many voluble assurances that Mistress Ford could 
have all the lovers she pleased, were not her husband 
so terribly jealous. 

Delighted with the appointment, — ^which he 
ascribes to his surpassing charms, — FalstaflE is doubly 
triumphant when Mistress Quickly proceeds to 
state Mistress Page also entrusted a message to her. 
Still, for a moment he fears the two ladies may 
have confided in each other, and is, therefore, much 
relieved when Mistress Quickly assures him such is 
not the case. Then she delivers Mistress Page's 
message to the effect that, if he will lend her his 
page, she will send him word whenever her husband 
is away. This scheme delights Falstafi, who feels 
so confident of soon replenishing his funds that he 
richly rewards Mistress Quickly ere she leaves with 
his page. 

Left alone, Falstaff plumes himself upon his con- 
quests, until interrupted in these self-gratulations 
by the announcement that Master Brook is below, 
asking to drink with him. Such an invitation is too 
tempting for Falstafi to refuse, so he orders Mas- 
ter Brook shown upstairs, and is still chuckling over 
his bright prospects when Ford enters, in disguise. 
With the utmost affability Brook now invites Fal- 
staff to drink, and soon exhibits a bag of money 
which he offers to share with the knight, as he does 
not know how to dispose of his superfluous funds. 
This offer proves so acceptable, that Falstaff, in a 
friendly mood, inquires what he can do in return? 
Pretending to confide in this new friend, Brook now 

240 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

admits he is deeply in love with Mistress Ford, 
whose jealous husband permits no one to approach 

On hearing that Brook has never even addressed 
the lady, Falstaff, proud of his successes, reveals 
how he has made an appointment with her, and 
promises to use his influence in furthering his host's 
suit. This assurance charms Brook, who feels cer- 
tain if the lady will once step down from her 
pedestal of virtue, he will have an easy time hcr^ 
after. In his satisfaction, he promises FalstaS a 
rich reward if he undermines her virtue, and little by 
little learns all about the coming rendezvous. When 
Falstaff finally leaves him, promising to meet him 
that evening and report success. Ford jealously raves 
over his wife's infidelity, vowing he will expose her, 
and dubbing Page ' a secure ass ! ' 

In an empty field near Windsor, irate Dr. Caius 
and his second vainly await the Welsh parson. 
The Frenchman, while railing in broken English at 
his opponent, vows he will kill him as soon as they 
stand face to face, and is demonstrating the thrusts 
he means to use, when the innkeeper. Shallow, Slen- 
der, and the page appear. While the others have 
come to see the fight, Shallow's intention is to pre- 
vent the duel, for he pompously orders the doctor 
to follow him home and keep the peace. 

Meantime, the host gleefully whispers to Page 
that Sir Hugh is awaiting the doctor's arrival in 
another meadow, and suggests their bringing him 
thither by a roundabout way, so as to prolong the 
fim. After some whispering this plot is settled^ 

The Merry Wives of Windsor 241 

so Page leads Shallow and Slender away, while the 
innkeeper entices Caius to Frogmore, under the pre- 
text of meeting Mistress Anne, with whom he is in 

Act III. The third act opens in a field near 
Frogmore, where the Welsh parson, and his second 
Simple, are waiting for the doctor's coming. In 
his impatience and anger, the Welshman blusters 
and tries to beguile time by singing in the strongest 
of Welsh accents. Having gone to reconnoitre. 
Simple soon returns, volunteering that Dr. Caius is 
ccHiiing, whereupon the par^n assumes a truculent 
bearing. Instead of the doctor, however, Page, 
Shallow, and Slender appear on the scene, and, while 
Page jocosely inquiries why the parson stands there, 
sword in hand. Slender, who is trying to pose as a 
lover, bleats out at intervals, * Sweet Anne Page.' 

After some conversation, these actors are joined 
by the innkeeper, Caius, and his servant. The host 
now suggests that, instead of weapons, the champions 
fight their duel with their tongues, a feat they seem 
quite able to perform, and which becomes extremely 
comical, owing to their diverging accents. From 
their vituperation we learn that the innkeeper de- 
coyed Caius hither to join Anne Page, and, when 
the antagonists discover they have been victims of a 
practical joke, they join forces to secure revenge. 

In a street in Windsor, we see Mistress Page, 
closely following Falstafi's page, who is proud of 
being leader instead of follower. Joined by Ford, 
who suspiciously inquires where she is going, Mis- 
tress Page replies she is on her way to visit his wife, 

242 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

and when he jealously remarks that, were their hus- 
bands dead, they would doubtless marry, retorts they 
certainly would take other consorts. When she has 
gone with the page whom Falstaff loaned her, Ford 
wonders how his friend can so blindly allow his wife 
to keep thus close at hand a lad who doubtless car- 
ries messages to the knight. 

While Ford is wondering how to surprise his 
wife in Falstaff*s company, he sees the returning 
duellists and their friends appear. He, therefore, 
persuades them all to accompany him, an invitation 
Shallow and Slender decline, because they are to 
dine at the parson's to learn the answer to their 
proposal. Hearing this statement, the doctor swears 
Anne Page loves him, while the host opines that Fen- 
ton, being young and handsome, is more likely to 
have found favour in her eyes. Page, however, vows 
his daughter shall not marry without his consent, 
and says he disapproves of Fenton, because he is an 
associate of the Prince and Poins. Then he and 
the rest gladly follow Ford, who promises to show 
them a monster, while the host, alone, returns to the 
inn, preferring to spend the time drinking with 

The curtain next rises in Ford's house, where the 
mistress, calling her two men-servants, orders them 
to bring in a huge clothes basket (a buck basket), 
which they set down as she directs. They are to 
carry it, as soon as she summons them, to a neigh- 
bouring meadow, and dump its contents into the 
muddy waters of the Thames. After repeating her 
instructions, — adding a warning tp show no sur- 

The Merry Whjes of Windsor 243 

prise, should the basket weigh more than usual, — 
Mistress Ford dismisses these men, just as the page 
reports Falstaff at the back door. 

After making sure the page has not revealed the 
fact that Mistress Page is in the house, Mistress 
Ford orders her suitor admitted, while her friend 
retires into the adjoining room. The hostess is 
just muttering they will teach Falstaff to distin- 
guish good women from bad, when the fat knight 
strides in, grandiloquently exclaiming this is a 
blessed hour, and vowing he would like to make 
her * my lady.' With coquettish arts, Mistress 
Ford leads the fat knight on to making ponderous 
compliments, and when she pretends to be jealous 
of the attentions he has shown Mistress Page, in- 
duces him to swear this lady is as hateful to him * as 
the reek of a lime-kiln ! ' Just then the page screams 
that Mistress Page is at the door, and Falstaff deftly 
slips behind the arras, while Mistress Ford advances 
to welcome her friend. Reproaching her neighbour 
for harbouring a lover in her husband's absence, 
Mistress Page breathlessly exclaims that Ford is 
coming with a posse of friends to expose her ! With 
pretended dismay. Mistress Ford confesses that she 
is, indeed, entertaining a visitor ; so her friend, after 
some virtuous reproaches, suggests hiding the in- 
truder in the huge clothes basket, since all the doors 
are guarded to prevent his escape. 

Although Mistress Ford vows Falstaff is too large 
to be stowed away in such a receptacle, the knight 
bustles out of his hiding-place, vowing he can get in, 
and bespeaking their aid to conceal him. He then 

244 Stories of Shakespeare^s Comedies 

crowds into the basket, where they hastily cover him 
up with foul linen, before they summon the bearers 
who are to remove it. These men are just car- 
rying off their burden, when Ford arrives, calling 
to his friends to follow him, and promising, in case 
he has brought them here fruitlessly, to be their 
laughing-stock and give them a treat. On meeting 
his servants with the basket, Ford angrily demands 
where they are carrying it, and when his wife an- 
swers * To the laundress, forsooth,' he allows them 
to pass, ordering his companions to search the house 
and * unkennel the fox ! * He does this, notwith- 
standing Page's attempts to pacify him, and al- 
though both Caius and Evans wonder at the raging 
jealousy he displays. 

Meantime the women are slyly enjoying the fun, 
not knowing what is most diverting, Falstaff's plight 
or Ford's rage. Then, hoping to secure further 
amusement, they plan to send Mistress Quickly to 
Falstaff to beg him to excuse the treatment he has 
received, and to invite him a second time. The de- 
tails in regard to a new appointment are barely 
settled, when the searchers return. Ford raging not 
to have discovered the fat knight, and muttering that 
he bragged of what he could not compass. Pretend- 
ing injured feelings. Mistress Ford berates her hus- 
band, while Page vows he should be ashamed of his 

Meantime, Caius and Evans, who have been fore- 
most in the search, return averring no traces have 
been found of a lover, and that Ford must be suf- 
fering from a bad conscience. They, therefore, in- 

The Merry Wives of Windsor 245 

mi he shall pay the agreed penalty, thus securing 
an invitation to breakfast for the morrow, with a 
promise of hawking to follow. 

In a room in Page's house we next see Fenton, 
assuring Anne he has vainly tried to induce her 
father to listen to his suit. He states her father's 
main objections are his high birth, his association 
with the wild prince, and a suspicion that he is court- 
ing Anne for her money. When she inquires 
whether there is any truth in the latter accusation, 
Fenton loyally confesses that although he came 
wooing for mercenary purposes, he has been deeply 
ashamed of it since, having found her to be of more 
value ' than stamps in gold or sums in sealed bags! ' 
Because he fervently assures her, * 'tis the very riches 
of thyself that now I aim at,' Anne graciously bids 
him continue trying to obtain her father's consent, 
hinting, in case he does not obtain it, that she will 
run away with him. 

Their conversation is interrupted by the arrival 
of Shallow, Slender, and Mistress Quickly, the 
Justice fussily bidding the lady to break off so 
dangerous a tete-a-tete, and give his cousin a chance 
to woo for himself. Slender, who has nothing to 
say, now approaches Anne Page, who disdainfully 
comments this is the suitor her father has chosen on 
account of his three hundred pounds a year! While 
Mistress Quickly monopolises Fenton's attention. 
Slender awkwardly tries to woo Anne, his courtship 
complacently watched by Shallow, who tries to 
further it by occasionally putting his oar in the con- 
versation. But, Anne's abrupt inquiry in regard 

246 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

to his wishes so confuses Master Slender that he 
stammers ' little or nothing/ adding that his father 
and uncle can tell her better than he. Just then 
Page and his wife come in, the former pleased to 
see Slender beside his daughter, and both he and his 
wife inform Fenton their daughter is no match for 
a man of his rank, ere they invite Shallow and Slen- 
der into the other room. Though dismissed, Fenton 
lingers to impress upon Mistress Page how dearly he 
loves her daughter, and to bespeak her aid. This 
lady, however, favours Caius' suit, so she dismisses 
Fenton, coolly stating she will ascertain her daugh- 
ter's feelings, but that they must both join Page, or 
he will be angry. 

To secure Fenton's favour. Mistress Quickly now 
assures him this encouragement is due to her inter- 
vention, thus obtaining a new gratuity, together with 
a ring she is to deliver to Anne Page in his name. 
After he has gone. Dame Quickly sighs he has a 
good heart, and that she wishes all three suitors 
could secure the damsel, since she promised to aid 
them all. She does not, however, tarry long on the 
scene, as she has another message to deliver to Sir 
John Falstaff from the two married ladies. 

We now return to the Garter Inn, where Falstafi 
IS loudly calling for a drink to warm him after his 
wetting. In a fume he describes his uncomfortable 
plight in the basket, and his ducking in the river, 
where he would have drowned had not the water 
been shallow. He is greedily quaffing his liquor, 
when Mistress Quickly enters, and when she states 
she comes from Mistress Ford, he indignantly mut- 

The Merry Wives of Windsor 247 

tcrs he has had ford enough ! Volubly assuring him 
the lady was not to blame for his ducking, Mistress 
Quickly reports that Mistress Ford would like to 
see him between eight and nine on the morrow, when 
her husband will be away bird-hunting. 

As this invitation flatters Falstaff's colossal van- 
ity, he delightedly accepts it. He is alone, wonder- 
ing why he has heard nothing of Brook — ^whose 
money he is lavishly spending — ^when this gentleman 
appears. In reply to his questions, Falstaff gives a 
boastful account of his visit to Mistress Ford, de- 
scribing his escape in the basket, and thus causes 
the disguised husband to mutter in an angry aside 
that he has been badly cheated. Brook, however, 
manages to express regret for the sufferings which 
Falstaff vows he has undergone in his behalf, so 
the fat knight noisily protests he will be thrown in 
a volcano, rather than give up his efforts to outwit 
Ford. Then he reveals he has a second appoint- 
ment, and hastens off to keep it, while Ford regis- 
ters an oath to catch him without fail this time, as 
he does not propose being tricked again. 

Act IV. The fourth act opens in a street in 
Windsor, where Mistress Page is asking Dame 
Quickly whether Falstaff has already gone to keep 
his appointment with Mistress Ford, and whether 
he is angry at having been thrown into the Thames ? 
Just then the Welsh parson — ^who is schoolmaster- — 
comes along, announcing he is giving a holiday, so 
Mistress Page can take her little boy home. In 
hopes of having her maternal vanity gratified by an 
exhibition of her offspring's learning. Mistress Page 

248 Stories of Shakespeare^s Comedies 

bcscedics the sdKmlmastcr to question his pupil, and 
listens admiringly to her son's answers, upon which 
Mistress Quickly makes quaint comments. This 
extempore cxaminarion finished, the parson goes oS, 
while the others betake themselves to Mistress 

We now behold a room in this dwelling, where 
Falstaff is graciously accepting his hostess' ex- 
cuses, and appears overjo3red to learn that her hus- 
band is out of reach. He is about to begin his 
wooing, when, hearing the voice of Mistress Page, 
his hostess implores him to step into the adjoin- 
ing room. On meeting her entering friend. Mistress 
Ford whispers that she must speak loudly enough 
to be heard in the next room, so in excited tones, 
Mistress Page exclaims how glad she is to to hear 
the fat knight is not here, since Mr. Ford is 
again coming with friends to search the house and 
murder Falstaff, who, he has discovered, was carried 
out before in a clothes basket. 

On learning her husband is near at hand. Mistress 
Ford wails she is undone, for the knight is with 
her, although she denied his presence a while ago. 
Mistress Page now suggests that Falstaff depart im- 
mediately, while Mistress Ford wonders whether 
they can make use of the same trick ? Having heard 
every word, Falstaff appears, vowing nothing will 
ever induce him to get into that basket again ! But, 
when he suggests escaping through the back door, 
Mistress Page warns him that Ford's brothers arc 
posted there; and when he volunteers to climb up 
the chimney. Mistress Ford exclaims he would ruii 

The Merry Wives of Windsor 249 

^taX risk, as the hunters invariably discharge their 
pieces up the flue. Persuaded her husband will 
Search every nook and comer, she wrings her hands 
in despair, until Mistress Page suggests a disguise. 
Then, only. Mistress Ford remembers her maid's 
aunt, the fat woman of Brentford, left clothes up- 
stairs, which she bids Sir John hasten and don, while 
she finds a kerchief to tie round his head. 

While FalstafiF bustles off. Mistress Ford ex- 
presses a malicious hope her husband will meet the 
knight in this disguise, for he is so angry against 
the fat woman that he has promised her a good 
beating next time she enters his door. Then, as- 
sured the alarm is not a false one, and that Ford is 
really on his way. Mistress Ford decides to gain 
time by sending the clothes basket off again, and 
bustles off in search of linen. While she is absent. 
Mistress Page avers that their trickery is justified 
by Ford's absurd jealousy, and that they are merely 
determined to prove to their husbands that 'wives 
may be merry, and yet honest too.* 

A moment later Mistress Ford hurries in with 
her men, whom she bids carry out the basket, 
setting it down quickly, should their master request 
them to do so. So they move off with the burden, 
gleefully commenting it is less heavy than the last 
time, just as Ford and his companions burst into the 
house. Seeing the fatal basket on its way out. Ford 
fancies he has secured his game, and swearing ve- 
hemently, makes the men set it down. In loud 
tones he then bids the rascal come forth, feverishly 
casting the linen hither and thither to discover 

250 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

the culprit concealed beneath it. His companions 
are deriding his vain efforts, when Mistress Ford 
comes into the room, and in reply to a marital 
tirade, declares her husband, as usual, is suspecting 
her without cause. Paying no heed to her, Ford 
continues his investigations, bidding his friends, 
meanwhile, search the house. On hearing this. Mis- 
tress Ford calls to Mistress Page and the old 
woman to come down, and when her husband sus- 
piciously inquires who is upstairs, calmly rejoins it 
is the witch of Brentford. 

Furious that his command should be disregarded. 
Ford seizes a stick which he lays lustily across the 
old woman's shoulders, ere he drives her out of 
doors. In vain Mistress Page and Mistress Ford 
remonstrate, the master of the house exclaims she 
deserves a beating for being a witch, and the school- 
master concludes he may be right, since women 
with beards are always suspicious ! 

To calm the jealous husband, his friends now 
scatter through the house, and while they search, 
Mistress Ford and Mistress Page chuckle over Fal- 
staff's beating, feeling sure he will never wish to 
try love-assignations with them again. This time, 
however, they propose to confide the whole story 
to their husbands, and rejoice to think that Falstaff 
will be publicly shamed when his tricks are exposed. 

In a room at the inn, we next hear Bardolph tell 
the host that some Germans want three of his 
horses, so as to go and meet a Duke, who wishes 
to retain all the rooms in his house. Delighted 
with the prospect of entertaining such a grandee, the 

The Merry Wives of Windsor 251 

host supplies the horses, and promises to turn away 
all other guests. 

We next return to Ford's house just as the search 
is concluded, and the wives, having made their con- 
fession, exhibit the two letters they received. While 
Page marvels that Falstaff should have so little wit 
as to send two missives exactly alike. Ford humbly 
begs his wife's pardon, promising never to suspect 
her again. To continue the sport, however, all four 
decide that another tryst be made with Falstaff, in 
the park, at midnight, although the parson doubts 
whether a man, who has been half drowned and 
sorely beaten, will accept a third invitation. Bid- 
ding their husbands devise ^Jkjx^ to treat Falstaff, 
once in their power, Mistress Ford and Mistress 
Page engage to beguile him into the park. Then 
they quote a local legend that the spirit of a former 
keeper, wearing horns and rattling a chain, prowls 
around one of the oaks. 

They propose that Falstaff assume the guise of 
this hunter, and meet them there at midnight, and 
that Anne Page and a number of other young peo- 
ple, disguised as elves and fairies, suddenly emerge 
from the sawpit. These are all to surround Falstaff, 
sing songs, pinch him, and burn him with their 
lights, for having dared to venture within their 
realm. The schoolmaster volunteers to train and 
lead the children, while Ford procures the necessary 
disguises. Although Mistress Page murmurs that 
her daughter, in white, shall personate the queen of 
the fairies. Page mutters this will be the best oppor- 
tunity for Slender to kidnap her. These prelim- 

252 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

inaries settled, Ford undertakes to visit Falstaff once 
more, in the guise of Brook, to find out whether he 
will keep the tryst. Then, the men having gone, 
* the merry wives ' prepare their message for Fal- 
staff, which Mistress Ford departs to send. When 
she has gone. Mistress Page murmurs she will ar- 
range matters so the French doctor can lead Anne 
away from the rest of the fairies, and marry her that 
very night. 

Returning to the inn, we find Simple informing 
the host he wishes to speak to FalstafiE. When told 
to knock at the knight's door. Simple refuses to do 
so, because he has seen an old woman enter that 
room. Pretending to be shocked at FalstafFs be- 
haviour, the host jocosely calls to him to send the old 
woman down, only to hear FalstafiE rejoin she has al- 
ready gone. This fact vexes Simple, for he has fol- 
lowed her thither to ask what she knows about the 
chain Nym beguiled from his master. Under pre- 
tence of knowing all about this, FalstafiE reports that 
the witch pronounced the chain lost forever, an an- 
swer Simple believes. He next proceeds to inquire 
whether his master will win Anne Page, and, on 
hearing the witch promised such a consimimation, 
hastens away to carry the good news to Slender. 

When he has gone, the host inquires whether the 
wise woman really was there, and is told by Falstaff 
that she was indeed, and taught him more than he 
ever learned before! Host and guest are still con- 
versing, when Bardolph bursts in, wailing the Ger- 
man grooms were horse-thieves who have run away 
with their steeds. This bad news is confirmed by the 

The Merry Wives of Windsor 253 

parson, who rushes in to warn the host to guard his 
property well, as horse-thieves are abroad. A mo- 
ment later Dr. Cams comes in his turn to caution 
his friend that the German duke is a charlatan, be- 
lated warnings which only incense the host, who 
rushes out in hopes of recovering his property. 

Left alone, Falstaff soliloquises that luck has for- 
saken him, since he forswore himself at cards. 
He is talking thus when Mistress Quickly brings 
him the message from Mistress Ford, which he at 
first refuses to receive. But, when the messenger 
assures him poor Mistress Ford has been beaten 
black and blue, yet is longing for him, he con- 
descends to accept her tryst. 

Meantime, in another room, Fenton is interview- 
ing the host, promising him a hundred pounds over 
and above the value of his lost steeds, if he will 
only help him and keep his counsel. The prospect 
of such gain decides the host to listen, and he soon 
learns how dearly Fenton loves Anne Page, and how 
little chance there is of obtaining her fairly, since 
her father is plotting to give her to Slender, and 
her mother to the French physician. Fenton adds 
that Anne Page has revealed to him the tryst by the 
oak, and the fact that she is to personate the fairy 
queen ; also that her father has ordered her to wear 
white and go with Slender, and her mother to wear 
green and follow Caius. When the host asks which 
parent the maiden will deceive, Fenton replies she 
will trick both by hastening with him to the par- 
sonage, where the host must have some one ready 
to marry them, and thus earn the promised reward. 

254 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

Act V. The fifth act opens just as Falstafi is 
promising Mistress Quickly to meet Mistress Ford, 
and fervently hoping his third venture will prove 
successful. Volubly promising to procure chain and 
horns for his disguise, Mistress Quickly bustles oif, 
just before Ford enters, still personating Master 

The fat kni^t now boasts that if his friend 
comes to the park at midnight, he will behold won- 
ders, and then fatuously reveals the whole plot, 
telling how sorely he was beaten while disguised as 
a witch, a punishment he has not undergone since 
last attending school. It is with the understanding 
that they are to meet in the forest, that Falstaff 
parts from his visitor, assuring him that Mistress 
Ford will be handed over to him there. 

We now behold Windsor park; where Page, 
Shallow, and Slender are preparing to hide until 
the fairy lights appear. Not only has Slender been 
duly coached for the part he is to play, but he re- 
veals how he has agreed upon passwords with Mis- 
tress Anne. He, therefore, feels confident of suc- 
cess, and goes with his companions to lie in wait for 
Falsta£E, whom they expect to recognise by his broad 

On a street leading to the park, the Merry Wives 
of Windsor encounter the doctor, whom Mistress 
Page instructs to seize the fairy in green, and hurry 
her off to the deanery, where she has arranged for 
the marriage. Then she bids him hasten on and 
hide, since he must not be seen in their company. 
When he has gone, Mistress Page remarks her hus- 

The Merry Wives of Windsor 255 

band will resent the trick she is playing, but deems 
it is better to be beaten than to be disappointed in 
her plans. Both women now hasten off to the park, 
and, shortly after they have vanished, the school- 
master appears with the fairy train, bidding them in 
the broadest of Welsh accents to trip along, be 
mindful of their parts, and duck low down in the 
sawpit, so as not to be seen before the right time. 

In another part of the park we behold Falstaff, 
disguised as the phantom hunter, just as he is con- 
cluding that since the clock has struck twelve, he 
may soon hope to behold his beloved. In his usual 
bombastic vein he reminds us how Jove underwent 
sundry transformations during his courtships, and 
does not hesitate to compare himself to the king of 
the gods. When Mistress Ford joins him, he sen- 
timentally addresses her as his doe, but is checked 
in his first attempt at familiarity by the warning 
that Mistress Page is present, too. Nothing 
daunted, however, the gallant Falstaff proposes to 
make love to both. While they admire his fine dis- 
guise, a sudden noise so terrifies the women that 
they rush away, and Falstaff ruefully concludes it 
is written his trysts shall be interrupted! 

Going in the direction of the noise, he beholds the 
parson and Pistol, disguised as hobgoblins, closely 
followed by Mistress Quickly, Anne Page, and the 
other fairies. As it is death for a mortal to spy 
upon fairy doings or address them, Falstaff flings 
himself face downward on the grass, and in this posi- 
tion overhears Mistress Quickly instruct the fairies 
to perform their duties, while the hobgoblins pre- 

256 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

pare to visit the places where maids have been slack. 
Then, suddenly, the spirits scent the nearness of some 
man, and, discovering Falstaff, gather around him, 
and pinch and bum him, singing a mocking song. 
While they are thus skipping madly. Dr. Caius 
slips away in one direction with a boy dressed in 
green, while Slender carries off a boy in white. 
Meanwhile, Fenton experiences no difficulty in en- 
ticing the real Anne Page away from the 'revels, 
which continue until the blast of a hunting horn 
summons the fairies away. 

Free from the imps' tormenting presence, Falstafi 
rises, and is removing the buck's head forming part 
of his disguise, when Mr. and Mistress Page and 
Mr. and Mistress Ford appear, mockingly asking 
what he thinks of Windsor wives? Their taunts 
reveal how he has been tricked, although he had mis- 
trusted the pinches and burns inflicted by those elves. 
When the parson thereupon admonishes him never 
to indulge in such pastimes as courting married 
ladies again, the fat knight ruefully promises reform, 
regretting he should be the hero of so ridiculous a 
tale I 

Accused also of swindling Brook out of money, 
Falstaff becomes so dejected, that Page cheers him 
with the assurance he can soon laugh at those who 
made fun of him, since it gave Slender the of)por- 
tunity to marry Anne Page. The mother refuses to 
believe this, for she feels certain her daughter is now 
pledged to the doctor; even while the parents are 
disputing on this subject. Slender bursts in, bellow- 
ing for ' father Page/ and swearing he has been 

The Merry Wives of Windsor 257 

tricked, for, on arriving at his destination, he found 
his fairy a * great lubberly boy ! ' Hotly reproached 
by Page, he explains how carefully he carried out the 
programme; whereupon Mistress Page avers he was 
not to blame for the mistake, as she arranged her 
daughter should leave with the doctor. She is still 
talking when Caius comes in, roaring indignantly 
that he has married a boy! He, too, insists he did 
not blunder, and Ford and Page are just wondering 
what can have become of the missing Anne, when 
Fenton and his bride appear, beggiog pardon and an- 
nouncing their wedding. 'In reply to the parents' 
indignant questions, Fenton explains how, unable 
to obey them both, Anne saved herself from present 
disappointment and future sin by marrying the man 
she loved. As their marriage is an accomplished 
fact, — ^which Ford decides cannot be remedied, — 
Page decides to wish his ne\^ son-in-law happiness. 
Meantime, Falstaff rejoices that, although the 
plot was aimed at him, its worst consequences have 
fallen on the plotters' heads. All therefore decide 
to forgive the past, and return home amicably, to 
laugh over their adventures by the fireside; but as 
they depart. Ford slyly assures Sir John that one of 
his promises has not been broken, since Brook is 
hereafter to enjoy the company of Mistress Ford! 


Act I. The opening of the first act shows Lc- 
onato, Governor of Messina, standing before his 
house with his daughter Hero, and niece Beatrice, 
to receive the gentleman messenger, announcing the 
victorious return of Don Pedro of Arragon. After 
perusing his letter, Leonato inquires how many 
lives have been lost, and is delighted to hear few 
have perished.. He then remarks that the most 
lauded person in his dispatches is Claudio, who 
the messenger enthusiastically declares * better bet- 
tered expectation.' 

The ladies, who have listened eagerly, now join 
in the conversation, Beatrice pertly inquiring whether 
Lord Mountanto is returning with the troops? As 
the messenger fails to recognise the person she men- 
tions by this nickname. Hero explains her cousin 
means Signior Benedick, of Padua, who, Beatrice 
adds, once challenged a fool, and whose victims she 
has volunteered to eat, because she does not believe 
they exist ! 

Although amused by his niece's pertness, the gov- 
ernor thinks she is making too much ado about 
nothing, for he good-naturedly exclaims she is tax- 
ing too sorely a good soldier. Then, as Beatrice 
continues to gird at her absent foe, Leonato ex- 
plains how his niece and Signior Benedick never meet 


Much Ado About Nothing 259 

hout indulging in a * merry war * of wit. Toss- 
her head, Beatrice rejoins this youth has never 
gotten the better of her, and claims that in their 
encounter she routed four of his five wits. Be- 
$e the messenger adds Benedick is returning 
i his friend Claudio, she pities the latter, declar- 
he will pay dear for such intimacy. 
Lt this juncture Don Pedro of Arragon, his 
:her Don John, Claudio, and Benedick appear, 
are courteously welcomed by Leonato, who, in 
y to their apologies for troubling him with their 
irtainment, assures Don Pedro trouble never came 
his house in the guise of his Grace. Turning to 
ladies, Don Pedro next inquires whether one is 
Leonato's daughter, and enters into conversa- 
with Hero, just as a remark from Benedick 
s forth Beatrice's scornful, * I wonder that you 
. still be talking, Signior Benedick; nobody 
ks you.' This gibe is promptly returned by 
liat, my dear lady Disdain! are you yet living? ' 
ireto Beatrice avers Disdain will never die, so 
; as it has such food to feed upon as Signior 
edick. These two continue thus to bandy bit- 
sweet remarks, until Benedick, piqued by his com- 
ion's jeers, exclaims he wishes his horse had 
speed of her tongue, and were so ' good a con- 
ler.' Don Pedro, who has paid no attention 
his skirmish, now announces he has accepted Le- 
to's invitation to tarry in Messina a month, a 
sion pleasing to his host, who welcomes even the 
oxious Don John, recently reconciled to the 
hti against whom he rebelled. 

26o Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

While the princes of Arragon arc escorted off the 
scene by Leonato and the ladies, the two young men 
linger on the stage. Seizing this favourable oppor- 
tunity, Claudio asks Benedick whether he has noted 
Leonato's fair daughter, whom he admired before 
the war began, and with whom he now feels deeply 
enamoured, although fickle by nature. Benedick, the 
confirmed bachelor, ridicules his friend for yielding 
to feminine charms, and does his sarcastic best to 
find fault with Hero, pronouncing her attractions 
greatly inferior to those of Beatrice. Then, seeing 
his strictures remain without effect, he wonders 
whether he will * never see a bachelor of three-score 
again,' just as Don Pedro returns on the scene. 

When he pleasantly inquires what can detain 
them, Benedick playfully volunteers to reveal Clau- 
dio's secret, provided the prince command him to 
do so, and, enjoined to speak, reveals how dearly 
Claudio loves Hero. Unable to deny this, Claudio 
is overjoyed when Don Pedro pronoimces the lady 
worthy of him, although Benedick continues to 
rail at him for contemplating matrimony. Good- 
naturedly remarking that even Benedick may yet 
change his mind, Don Pedro is told that, should 
such be the case, they may take him for a laughing 
stock, and adorn him with the sign, ' here you may 
see Benedick the married man ! ' 

A little more conversation ensues, ere Don Pedro 
sends Benedick to inform Leonato they will honour 
the supper to which he has invited them. Then 
turning to Claudio, his favourite, Don Pedro prom- 
ises to aid him secure Hero's hand. In fact, his 

Much Ado About Nothing 261 

Grace proposes to sound the young lady in disguise 
that evening, and in case he finds her favourably in- 
clined toward Claudio, to arrange with her father 
for an immediate marriage. 

The curtain next rises on a room in the gov- 
ernor's house, where Leonato is asking his brother 
Antonio whether music has been ordered for the 
evening's entertainment? After answering in the 
affirmative, Antonio reports that one of his servants 
overheard Don Pedro and Claudio discussing Hero, 
with whom the prince has evidently fallen in love. 
Delighted with this news, Leonato proposes to warn 
his daughter, so she may be ready to answer, should 
the prince sue for her hand. 

Scarcely have he and his brother passed off the 
stage when Don John draws near with one of his 
followers, who inquires why he seems sad? Reply- 
ing in a misanthropic vein, Don John admits that he 
longs to show himself * a plain-dealing villain,* and 
how he has determined to seize every opportunity to 
make trouble for Claudio, whom he hates. These 
two men are joined by another follower of Don 
John, who announces he has been royally entertained 
at supper, where he has heard that Hero is about to 
marry Claudio. Such a piece of good fortune as an 
heiress-wife for the man he detests, irritates Don 
John, who inquires how his friend discovered the 
secret, and proposes to devise a plot whereby this 
love-affair will be crossed. His two friends, equally 
ready for villainy, gladly promise to aid him as much 
as they can. 

Act IL The second act opens in Leonato's 

262 Stories of Shakespeare^ s Comedies 

house, while he is questioning his brother and the 
ladies of his household in regard to Don John's ab- 
sence from the supper? Beatrice, who declares Don 
John always looks so sour that she suffers from 
heartburn whenever he is near her, seems glad he was 
away. She suggests that were he and Benedick 
blended together, they might make one fair-looking 
man, an opinion she expresses with so sharp a 
tongue, that her uncle vows she will never secure a 
husband until she learns to control it. This reproof 
calls forth further witticisms on Beatrice's part, for 
she avers she does not want any husband, but would 
far rather remain an old maid. When her uncle 
ventures to remind her that old maids * have to lead 
apes into hell,' she pertly rejoins the devil will take 
the apes from her at the door, and send her back to 
heaven, to sit among the bachelors, and live 'as 
merry as the day is long.' 

Turning to his niece Hero, Antonio inquires 
whether she, too, proposes to follow her cousin's ex- 
ample? Whereupon Beatrice mocks Hero for 
tamely accepting any husband her father cares to 
choose. When Leonato exclaims he doesn't despair 
of seeing his niece married some day, too, Beatrice 
continues to gibe at the men, vowing her cousin's 
wedding will be a time of great annoyance for her, 
until the noise of appi'oaching revellers forces 
the party to mask and receive the arriving guests. 

Among those who crowd in, wearing masks and 
dominoes, we discern Don Pedro, who, singling out 
Hero, engages her in conversation, and gradually 
draws her away from the rest, so as to be able to 

Much Ado About Nothing 263 

discuss serious matters. Meantime, one of his com- 
panions draws aside Margaret and Ursula, Hero's 
companions, and he and Antonio entertain them, 
while Beatrice, who has been joined by Benedick, im- 
mediately begins with him a wordy battle, wherein 
each shatters the other's lance as soon as possible. 
Still, they leave the room together, to join the dance, 
just as Don John appears with one of his followers 
and Claudio. 

Pretending to mistake the masked Claudio for 
Benedick, Don John, who is bent upon mischief, 
comments to him upon the fact of his brother's 
marked attentions to Hero; then, perceiving he has 
roused a lover's jealousy, he falsely states his brother 
intends to marry the governor's fair daughter. A 
moment later, Don John and his follower having 
gone, Claudio angrily mutters this is terrible news, 
for he now believes the prince is, indeed, wooing 
on his own account. He, therefore, bitterly con- 
cludes ' friendship is constant in all other things save 
in the office and affairs of love,' and that every man 
should do his own wooing, especially as Benedick 
joins him, and teasingly advises him to wear the 
willow, since the prince has secured his lady-love. 
Then, seeing Claudio depart greatly depressed. Bene- 
dick comments upon his disappointment, and wonders 
why Lady Beatrice called him * the prince's fool,' 
an epithet which sorely rankles. 

Such is the wound his vanity has received, that he 
determines to be revenged, and is just about to seek 
Beatrice's society once more, when Don Pedro ap- 
pears asking where Claudio may be? When Bene- 

264 Stories of Shakespeare^ s Comedies 

dick describes his friend's melancholy, Don Pedro 
wonders what could have caused it, and when told 
it is because he has stolen his friend^s nest, rejoins 
merrily he did so merely to teach the birds to sing 
for their rightful owner ! Then, detecting a note of 
pique in his companion's tone, Don Pedro slyly in- 
quires whether Benedick has SLgain been quarelling 
with Beatrice? This opens the floodgates, Benedick 
vowing he would not marry so sharp-tongued a lady, 
were she 'endowed with all that Adam had left 
him before he transgressed.' He is still holding 
forth on this subject when Beatrice enters with a 
few of her guests, so seeing her draw near. Benedick 
implores Don Pedro to dismiss him, and vanishes 
after exclaiming, ' I cannot endure my Lady 
Tongue ! ' 

Addressing Beatrice, the prince teasingly informs 
her she has lost the heart of Signior Benedick, to 
which the young lady retorts it had only been lent 
to her for a while ; finding an equally ready repartee 
to every remark he ventures. Turning to Claudio, 
Don Pedro then rallies him on his sadness, and, al- 
though the young man answers him shortly, kindly 
informs him he has so successfully wooed Hero in 
his behalf, that her father has given consent to the 
marriage, and all now remaining to do is to settle 
the wedding day. These tidings are gravely con- 
firmed by Leonato, who invites Claudio to take his 
daughter's hand, — a move the young lover accom- 
plishes in silence. Noting this, Beatrice ventures 
to taunt him, whereupon he rejoins that * silence is 
the perfectest herald of joy. I were but a little 


* . \ 

-j- 1 !_ J a. N r i> .J .■■« I'y * T ! C N S ■ 

Much Ado About Nothing 265 

happy, if I could say how much/ Then, turning 
to his betrothed, Claudio tells her he loves her 
dearly, only to be urged by Beatrice to kiss her 

Fascinated by Beatrice's merry ways, Don Pedro 
now playfully proposes to marry her, but she, 
catching his spirit, promptly returns his Grace would 
be too costly a husband for every-day wear, and that 
she would not think of accepting him unless she 
could have another for working days. It is only 
when her uncle begs her to attend to some house- 
hold matters that Beatrice departs, while Don Pedro 
remarks that she is a ' pleasant-spirited lady.' 

This praise pleases Leonato, who vows his niece 
is never sad or cross, although she gibes so con- 
stantly at marriage. When Don Pedro suggests 
she would make an ideal wife for Benedick, Leonato 
exclaims they would talk themselves mad in the 
course of a week. Paying no heed to this com- 
ment, Don Pedro inquires of Claudio when his 
marriage is to take place, and, learning it will be 
only on the following Monday, — a date too distant 
to suit the lover, although the father considers that 
space of time far too brief to accomplish all that 
must be done, — ^proposes to beguile the time of wait- 
ing by bringing together Beatrice and Benedick, 
who, he feels certain, can easily be induced to fall 
in love. Enlisting Leonato's and Claudio's ready 
aid to carry out this scheme, Don Pedro bids them 
follow him, so he can instruct them what moves to 
make to compel these wayward young folks to love 
each other, gleefully boasting that a double marriage 

266 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

will result, and that Cupid is not the only match- 

This group has barely left the room when Don 
John and his friend return to resimie their dis- 
cussion of Claudio's marriage. Perceiving Don 
John's desire to cross this plan in some way, his 
interlocutor suggests it can be done, although not 
honestly. When Don John inquires what he means, 
he explains how, having won Margaret's favour, he 
can easily make her appear at her mistress's window 
at night. He suggests that, if he call her Hero, 
it will seem as if Claudio's bride were secretly enter- 
taining a lover. This vile plot meets with such en- 
thusiastic approval from Don John, that he and the 
courtier decide to draw Don Pedro and Claudio 
aside, and tell them Hero is faithless, offering to 
prove the truth of their words if they will lie in am- 
bush beneath her window. There, Don John's 
friend will personate the lover, thus earning the re- 
ward of a thousand ducats. 

The next scene occurs in Leonato's orchard, 
where Benedick summons a boy and sends him for a 
book, as he wishes to enjoy a little solitude. Left 
alone, Benedick marvels that Claudio should have 
fallen so deeply in love, as hitherto this youth has 
been devoted to his profession as a soldier. It is evi- 
dent love can effect strange transformations, for 
Benedick mockingly concludes it may some day 
transform him into an oyster. Still, he deems that 
day far distant, for he avers that, while one woman 
may be fair, another wise, another virtuous, * till all 
graces be in one woman, one woman shall not come 

Much Ado About Nothing 267 

in my grace ! * He further declares that his ideal 
much be rich, wise, virtuous, fair, mild, noble, 
capable of good discourse, an excellent musician, ' her 
hair being of what colour it please God.' This 
whole soliloquy betrays great self-appreciation, and 
when it is concluded, Benedick complacently with- 
draws to a leafy arbour, so as not to be disturbed 
in his meditations by the people drawing near. 

From this arbour Benedick notices Don Pedro, 
Claudio, and Leohato strolling in the garden, ap- 
parently listening to music, but in reality bent on 
carrying out the deception they have planned. After 
asking Claudio, in a whisper, whether their victim 
is at hand, Don Pedro calls for a pretty song with 
a senseless refrain, and compliments the singer upon 
his way of rendering it. Meantime, from his hiding- 
place, Benedick ^ sarcastically criticises this music, 
averring that had a dog howled thus, he would have 
been hanged. After dismissing the musician, — 
who is hired to serenade Hero that night, — Don 
Pedro strolls nearer to the arbour, inquiring of Le- 
onato whether he meant what he said when he 
stated his niece Beatrice loved Benedick madly? In 
spite of the fact that Claudio exclaims this cannot 
be true, Leonato asserts his niece dotes upon that 
cavalier, although she pretends to abhor him. 

The vanity of the hidden Benedick is so tickled 
at the thought of having achieved the conquest of 
so difficult a lady, that he greedily listens, only to 
hear the gentlemen repeat that Beatrice counter- 
feits dislike. So serious are they while making 
these statements that Benedick feels convinced they 

268 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

are telling the truth, even when Leonato declares his 
niece constantly writes love letters she never sends. 
After discussing at length these letters, Beatrice's 
tears, and her amorous exclamations, — all of which 
information Leonato claims to have obtained from 
Hero, — Don Pedro gravely suggests Benedick should 
be informed of this passion; but Claudio declares 
such a move would be passing cruel, as his friend 
does not believe in love, and would surely make 
fun of the lady. All three, therefore, decide to 
allow Beatrice to pine, hoping she may in time 
forget her mad passion for Benedick, whom they 
pronounce utterly unworthy of being beloved by so 
charming a lady. Having thus executed their plan, 
the three conspirators move away, Claudio whisper- 
ing to his companions that if Benedick doesn't dote 
upon Beatrice hereafter, he will never trust his ex- 

The gentlemen having gone, Benedick issues from 
his hiding-place, marvelling at all he has heard, and 
deciding it will never do to allow so lovely a lady 
to pine away. Instead, he proposes to sacrifice his 
desire to remain single, and has just decided to 
marry soon, when Beatrice comes into the garden, 
tartly stating she has been sent, — ^much against her 
will, — to summon him to dinner. Instead of an- 
swering this remark in kind. Benedick, convinced 
that Beatrice is doing violence to her feelings, proves 
so deferential that she fails to recognise him. Be- 
cause she flouhces off, he conceitedly comments that 
her manner is confirmation strong of all he has over- 
heard, and declares that, if he does not take pity 

Much Ado About Nothing 269 

upon her, he is a villain, and that if he does not 
love her he is a Jew ! 

Act III. The third act opens in the governor's 
garden, where Hero bids Margaret run into the 
parlour and whisper to Beatrice, — ^who is conversing 
there with the prince and Claudio, — that her cousin 
and Ursula are in the orchard talking about her, and 
that, if she cares to overhear them, she can do so by 
hiding in a neighbouring bower. Promising to in- 
duce Beatrice to come soon, the maid vanishes, while 
Hero instructs her companions to talk loudly about 
Benedick, praising him highly, and depicting him as 
desperately in love with Beatrice; for it is by such 
means Hero hopes to induce her cousin to fall in 
love with this swain. A moment later, having seen 
Beatrice steal to her hiding-place. Hero strolls in 
that direction, talking carelessly of her cousin's light 
ways, and of Signior Benedick's love for her. She 
declares this suitor deserves everything that is good, 
but, knowing Beatrice's scorn for him, she avers 
she has advised him never to make his love known. 
In support of her opinion, she describes how Beatrice 
ridicules every man who approaches her, and vows 
the only way to cure Benedick of his hopeless passion 
will be to * devise some honest slanders ' to stain her 
cousin with. Such a proceeding seems objection- 
able to Ursula, who inquires why Beatrice does not 
look favourably upon Benedick, whom she considers 
a fine young man? Thereupon Hero assures her 
the young man is, indeed, excellent, and that she re- 
grets he has so sorely misplaced his affection. Then, 
feeling her work done, Hero suggests they return to 

270 Stories of Shakespeare^s Comedies 

the house to decide upon the wedding attire for the 

After they have gone, Beatrice emerges from her 
hiding-place, amazed at what she has heard, and 
radically cured of her most serious fault, by the life- 
like picture her cousin has held up before her eyes. 
She now decides to cease gibing, to bid maiden pride 
and contempt farewell, and to reward ..Benedick for 
his great love. 

The next scene is played in a room in Leonato's 
house, where Don Pedro, talking to the governor 
and to others, states he is lingering in Messina to 
witness the marriage, after which he intends to re- 
turn home. When Claudio volunteers to accom- 
pany him, he playfully rejoins that as it would be 
cruel to separate him from his bride, he has de- 
cided to take Benedick in his stead, knowing he is 
good company, and leaves no lady-love behind hiiri. 
Hearing this, Benedick shamefacedly rejoins he is 
no longer what he has been, and when they twit 
him with having a toothache, mutters it is easy for 
every man to * master a grief but he that has it/ 

Having observed his friend closely, Claudio now 
exclaims Benedick must be in love, for he has marked 
sundry tell-tale signs, such as hat-brushing, fre- 
quent barbering, fine dressing, and going to such 
unheard of sixteenth-century lengths as washing his 
face ! After enduring their gibes for a while. Bene- 
dick begs Leonato for a secret hearing, so, while 
they two draw aside, Don Pedro and Claudio glee- 
fully whisper that Hero and Margaret must have 
carried out their part of the plot, and that these 

Much Ado About Nothing 271 

*two bears will not bite one another when they 

At this moment Don John joins them, and, after 
greeting his brother, states he has a matter to im- 
part which concerns Claudio closely. Invited to 
speak, he asks Claudio whether he is really to be 
married on the morrow, looking so compassionately 
at him, that the youth anxiously inquires whether he 
has heard of any impediment to his nuptials ? With 
pretended reluctance, Don John now declares Hero is 
disloyal, offering to prove the truth of his state- 
ment, provided Claudio station himself beneath her 
window that night. He adds that should Hero's 
lover choose to marry her after that, he may do so, 
but that he feels confident he will never wish to trust 
her again. His jealousy roused by these remarks, 
Claudio swears, should he behold any reason why he 
should not wed Hero, he will shame her in the face 
of the congregation on the morrow, a decision upheld 
by Don Pedro, who feels his honour, too, is at stake, 
and they are still discussing what steps to take when 
the curtain falls. 

When it rises again, it is night in the street 
before Leoiiato's house, where Dogberry and his 
henchman Verges are placing the watch. Giving 
them long-winded instructions, Dogberry misuses his 
words in a comical fashion, and cautions his men not 
to meddle with thieves or any wrongdoers, lest they 
run into danger. The watchmen wisely conclude to 
sleep rather than watch, closing their eyes tight 
when thieves pass by, lest they should be tempted 
to interfere with their occupations. The whole 

272 Stories of Shakespeare^ s Comedies 

scene is ludicrous in the extreme, and vhen Dog- 
berry goes away, he bids the men keep particular 
watch of the governor's door, as a wedding is pend- 
ing and disturbances can be expected. 

No sooner have Dogberry and Verges gone, than 
two of Don John's men steal forward, closely noted 
by the watchmen, who have taken up their post on 
the church bench, to rest until it is time to go to 
bed. From this place of vantage they overhear 
one man boasting he has earned a thousand ducats 
in compassing an act of villainy, and mention how, 
posted beneath Hero's window, he called the cham- 
bermaid by her name, until he deluded the hidden 
Claudio into believing his lady-love faithless. Al- 
though only half understanding what they see and 
hear, the watchmen excitedly comment to each other 
about the plot they have discovered, and decide to 
arrest the malefactors, who protest vehemently. 

The scene is next transferred to Hero's apart- 
ments, on her wedding morning, just as she is calling 
for Beatrice and discussing fashions. In the midst 
of the voluble talk in regard to styles and the ap- 
proaching ceremony, Beatrice seems so out of tune, 
that she is twitted for it by one of the attendants. 
This occasions a witty and wordy skirmish, which 
is interrupted by Margaret's announcement that all 
the gentlemen in town have come to escort the bride 
to church. 

Meantime, in another room in the same house, 
Leonato is interviewing Dogberry and Verges, bid- 
ding them state their errand briefly, as he is very 
busy. As it is an impossibility for Dogberry to be 

Much Ado About Nothing 273 

brief, he informs the governor with endless circum- 
locution that two knaves were caught last night, 
beneath his windows, who should be examined im- 
mediately. Unwilling to be detained by trifling 
matters, Leonato deputes Dogberry to examine these 
prisoners himself, whereupon, proud of this charge, 
the constable hurries his prisoners off, bidding Verges 
summon a secretary with pen and inkhom to take 
down all they say. Just as Dogberry vanishes with 
men and prisoners, the governor is summoned to join 
his guests for the wedding. 

Act IV. The fourth act opens in the church, 
as Leonato is enjoining upon the friar to celebrate 
the marriage as briefly as possible. In compliance 
with these orders, the friar begins his momentous 
questions, and is startled to hear Claudio deny he has 
come here to marry Hero. Deeming this a mere 
quibble in regard to terms, he nevertheless pro- 
pounds the same question to the lady, who returns the 
conventional answer. When the friar next asks 
whether any one knows any * inward impediment 
why they should not be joined in marriage,' Claudio 
meaningly asks his bride whether she does not? 
Hearing her truthfully rejoin there is no obstacle 
as far as she knows, Claudio demands of Le- 
onato whether he is giving away a maiden daughter ? 
This question also being answered in the afiirma- 
tive, Claudio turns toward the wedding guests, indig- 
nantly denouncing Hero as a whited sepulchre and 
vowing he has good reasons for knowing she is not 
pure. When the father tremblingly demands 
whether this means he anticipated his wedding, 

274 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

Claudio rejoins he has always treated Hero in broth- 
erly fashion with * bashful sincerity and comely love.' 
His villainous accusations are so incomprehensible to 
the innocent Hero, that fancying he has been taken 
suddenly ill, she speaks gently to him. Hearing this, 
Don Pedro interferes, angrily vowing he feels in- 
sulted because such a person was offered to his friend. 
Then, in the course of the lively dialogue which en- 
sues, Don Pedro, Claudio, and Don John reveal 
how, standing beneath Hero's window last night, 
they saw a lover climb into her room. Their accusa- 
tions prove so circumstantial, that Leonato tragically 
inquires whether there is no dagger-point for his 
heart, while poor Hero swoons, and is caught as 
she falls by her cousin Beatrice. 

Seeing Hero apparently lifeless, Don John 
nervously suggests they go away, and succeeds in hur- 
rying his brother and Claudio out of the church. 
Meantime, Benedick and Beatrice, bending over the 
fainting Hero, call for help, which Leonato refuses 
to givej averring * death is the fairest cover for her 
shame that may be wish'd for,* and saying he hopes 
Hero will never open her eyes again! His opinion 
is not shared by Benedick and Beatrice, for when 
he wails nothing can ever * wash her clean again,' 
his niece exclaims her cousin is belied. In hopes of 
clearing Hero's reputation, Benedick now asks 
Beatrice whether she slept with her cousin last night 
as usual, and is appalled to hear how, for the first 
time, she omitted doing so. Although the heart- 
broken father considers this an additional proof of his 
daughter's guilt, the friar insists no culprit ever bore 

Much Ado About Nothing 275 

so innocent a face, claiming that long experience 
would enable him to detect the slightest trace of 
wrong-doing. He is, therefore, ready to swear the 
sweet lady lies * guiltless here under some blighting 
error,' although the father does not believe him. 
While they are talking. Hero's eyes open, so the friar 
eagerly inquires who has misled her? Truthfully, 
yet sadly, Hero rejoins she does not know what they 
mean, never having even conversed with a man at an 
improper time or ih an improper way. This state- 
ment convinces the friar and Benedick that some 
treachery is afoot, which the latter unhesitatingly 
ascribes to Don John, * whose spirits toil in frame 
of villainies.' Hearing this, Leonato vows that, 
should his daughter prove guilty, he will tear her to 
pieces with his own hands, but if she is wronged, 

* the proudest of them shall well hear of it.' 

To check his rising wrath, the friar suggests that, 
since the wedding guests departed under the im- 
pression that Hero had died at the altar, it will be 
well to keep her recovery secret, and adds that 
when the rumour of her death spreads abroad, and 
the pretence of an interment is made, people will 
feel so sorry for her that their pity will * change slan- 
der to remorse.' He fancies Claudio, in particular, 
will feel reproached, and adds that, should his ac- 
cusation prove true, Hero's shame can be hidden in 
a religious house, the place which would best befit 

* her wounded reputation.' 

This advice seems so wise that Benedick urges Le- 
onato to follow it, so he arranges to carry out the 
friar's plan. All the rest now leaving the scene of 

276 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

this tragedy, Benedick tenderly addresses Beatrice, 
inquiring whether she has wept all the time, and 
showing such sympathy that she feds deeply touched. 
When he ofiFers to be her friend, confessing he loves 
her, Beatrice rejoins that, although she does not 
love him, she thinks well of him. As usual, she 
relapses into efforts at wit, but instead of answering 
sharp speeches in kind, Benedick tries by every means 
in his power to disarm her. Hearing him 
vehemently offer to do anything she bids him, 
Beatrice calls out in righteous indignation she wishes 
he would kill Claudio, or at least prove him mis- 
taken in accusing Hero. She vehemently adds that 
were she only a man, she would avenge this insult, 
whereupon Benedick gallantly pledges himself to 
challenge his friend for slaying Hero, since it is 
agreed she is to be considered dead. 

The curtain next rises on the prison, where Dog- 
berry and his henchman are fussily cross-examining 
their prisoners. This whole scene is comical in the 
extreme, for Dogberry, full of his importance, bids 
the secretary write down one irrelevant statement 
after another. The only official showing any sense 
is the sexton, who has had experience in such mat- 
ters. Still, amidst the confusion it gradually 
transpires that the courtiers were paid by Don 
John to play a vile part that Hero might be pub- 
licly disgraced. This testimony is written down, 
although Dogberry regrets the secretary has de- 
parted before one of his prisoners termed him an 
ass, as he deems it important this statement be put 
down on the minutes, too! The prisoners, having 

Much Ado About Nothing 277 

fully confessed their wrong-doing, are led away 
bound, so Leonato can deal with them as he sees fit. 

Act V. The fifth act opens in front of Leonato's 
house, just as Antonio assures his brother he will 
kill himself if he continues mourning in this ex< 
travagant way. There is, however, no consolation 
for Leonato's deep sufferings, so he states such 
counsel is as profitless as pouring water in a sieve! 
When he eloquently expresses his sorrow, and his 
brother accuses him of acting like a child, Leonato 
bitterly retorts, * there was never yet philosopher that 
could endure the toothache patiently,' and vows his 
brother would show more heat if the wrong con- 
cerned him. His main object in life henceforth is to 
prove Hero has been belied by Claudio and the 

It is at this moment that Don Pedro and Claudio 
try to pass by and are detained by Leonato, who 
reviles them for wronging him and his child. When 
he hotly terms them villains, and threatens to prove 
it at the point of his sword, Don Pedro and Claudio 
vainly try to soothe him. Such is the excitement of 
both Leonato and Antonio, that they challenge 
Claudio to fight, while Don Pedro temperately states 
they are sorry to hear the lady has died, although 
she was charged with nothing *but what was true 
and very full of proof.' This reiterated insult sends 
Leonato and his brother off the stage in a rage. 

A moment later Benedick enters, and when 
Claudio inquires what news there is> answers in so 
cold and sarcastic a tone, that his companions fancy 
this is some new joke. Benedick, however, soon 

278 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

manages to draw Claudio aside, and challenges him 
in a whisper; in the same tone Claudio accepts this 
duel, although the prince, thinking they have made 
an appointment for an entertainment, chaSs them 
about it in a witty way. Then, still in pursuit of his 
former plan, Don Pedro reports how he heard 
Beatrice praise Benedick's wit, and urges Claudio 
to repeat the nice things she is supposed to have 
said about it. 

In spite of all this jocularity. Benedick returns 
haughty answers, and finally states he does not care 
to consort with them any longer, since he has heard 
that Don John has fled, not daring to remain in the 
city, now it is rumoured Hero's death is due to his 
machinations. Seeing Benedick go off in anger after 
this statement, Don Pedro expresses amazement, un- 
til he and Claudio realise the young man has man- 
fully espoused Beatrice's cause. 

They are still discussing the question when Dog- 
berry enters with his prisoners, in whom Don Pedro 
recognises with surprise two of his brother's men. 
When he questions the watch, Dogberry asserts they 
have been guilty of sundry misdeeds, becoming so 
verbose that Don Pedro finally turns to the pris- 
oners themselves for information. They humbly 
confess their villainy, having been stricken with re- 
morse on hearing the tragic result of their night's 
work. Their report positively staggers Don Pedro 
and Claudio, who can scarcely credit their ears, 
and only with difficulty realise how Don John started 
the slander which has such results. 

In his remorse, Claudio is loudly mourning for 

Much Ado About Nothing 279 

Hero, when Leonato bursts into the room, Le, too, 
having, meantime, heard the news. Clamouring for 
the villain so he may take his revenge, Leonato is 
told the prisoner is not to blame for his child's 
death. He soon realises it is to be ascribed mainly 
to Don John, although the prince, and Claudio, have 
had their share in the evil work. Hearing his 
strictures, Claudio implores Leonato to impose upon 
him any penance he chooses, vowing his sin consisted 
solely in misapprehension. As the same excuse is 
pleaded by Don Pedro, Leonato declares he will 
hold himself satisfied, provided they both repair to 
Hero's tomb, and do penance there for the insult 
offered her. Not only do Claudio and the prince 
engage to fulfil this duty, but the lover further 
pledges himself to meet the irate Leonato on the 
morrow to learn what other atonement he can make. 
Then Leonato decides that, since Claudio can no 
longer be his son-in-law, he shall marry his niece, 
who is ' almost the copy of my child that's dead,' a 
reparation the penitent Claudio is ready to make. 

Meanwhile, Leonato intends to confront Mar- 
garet and the prisoners, so as to sift the whole 
story down to the bottom, although the courtier 
voluntarily testifies she has always been virtuous, and 
was not aware of their vile plot. After receiving 
Leonato's thanks for ferreting out this affair, Dog- 
berry retires with his men, uttering a most involved 
speech. Then, taking leave of Don Pedro and 
Qaudio, who are to spend the night at Hero's tomb, 
Leonato and his brother go off with their prison^r^ 
to cross-question Margaret, 

28o Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

The next scene is played in the governor's garden, 
where Benedick is implpring Margaret to secure for 
him an interview with Beatrice. To tease this 
ardent suitor, Margaret bids him write a sonnet in 
praise of her beauty, and when he gallantly says she 
deserves it, enters into witty conversation with him, 
ere going away to summon her mistress. While 
waiting for Beatrice, Benedick sings to himself, mus- 
ing upon the great lovers of history, and conning 
the rhymes he wishes to use in composing a poem 
in honour of his lady-love. Although Beatrice on 
joining him answers his remarks in her wonted 
strain. Benedick makes a greater effort than ever 
before to win a hearing. His evident solicitude for 
her cousin touches Beatrice's heart, and she hds 
barely reported Hero very ill, when Ursula bursts 
in, full of excitement, exclaiming Leonato has ju$t 
discovered how Hero had been falsely accused, and 
the prince and Claudio tricked! These tidings 
prove so joyful to Beatrice that she graciously in- 
vites Benedick to go with her and hear all about it, 
an invitation he gladly accepts. 

The curtain next rises on the church where Hero 
was disgraced, whither Don Pedro and Claudio 
have come with attendants and tapers to place upon 
her monument, a statement fully retracting the slan- 
ders they uttered on this spot. After singing a 
touching requiem, Claudio promises to do yearly 
penance in this style in memory of the lovely lady 
* done to death ' by his cruelty. 

It is only when Don Pedro warns him dawn is 
near at hand that Claudio departs, saying mourn- 

Much Ado About Nothing 281 

fully he and his friends must change garments, and 
hurry to Leonato's, where he is to atone for his 
wrongdoing by marrying the governor's niece. 

At the hour for the wedding, many people as- 
semble in Leonato's house, where the friar 
triumphantly states he pronounced Hero in- 
nocent from the very first. All rejoice that the 
mystery has been solved, and Benedick is relieved 
not to have to fight his friend. Turning to his 
daughter, who stands among the guests in wedding 
array, Leonato bids her and her cousin withdraw, 
appearing masked only at his summons. Then, 
he warns the remaining guests that the prince and 
Claudio will soon appear, and bids them play their 
parts properly, his brother personating the bride's 
father and giving her away to Claudio, although the . ^4 , 
masked lady will be Hero^^ ^d not Beatrice, as the x / >V 
bridegroom supposes. Even the friar consents to aid '^^tj i^ vv< 
in this mystification, and Benedick suddenly pro- "ifi^j^^^i^iL 
poses to give the ceremony double importance, by be- 
ing united to Beatrice, with whom he has finally <^^^ 
reached an understanding. i 

It is at this juncture that Don Pedro and Claudio / 

enter, and, after greeting the assembled guests, / 

gravely state they are ready to proceed with the / 
marriage. While the governor's brother goes out / 
to get the bride, the prince, Claudio, and Benedick / 
indulge in sprightly conversation, which continues / 
until the ladies appear. Hesitating which to ap-j|^ 
proach, Claudio begs a glimpse of the bride's facer 
but Leonato tells him that is not allowed, and points 
out the lady he is to wed. After plighting troth by 

282 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

taking hands in the friar's presence, Hero removes 
her mask, saying, ' when I hVed, I was your other 
wife, and when you loved, you were my other hus- 
band/ This sudden appearance of a lady he deems 
dead, causes Claudio to start back in terror, but 
when the bride assures him one Hero was done to 
death, but that another is alive to marry him, he is 
so relieved to think she is still on earth that he 
welcomes her with rapture. All Hero's statements 
are, besides, fully confirmed by the friar, who prom- 
ises to explain everything after the wedding cere- 

Meantime, Benedick has approached Beatrice, 
who, removing her mask, asks what he washes? 
When he inquires whether she loves him, she jauntily 
rejoins ' no more than reason,' although he claims 
her uncle, the prince, and Claudio swear such is the 
case. Turning the tables upon him, Beatrice then 
asks whether he loves her, and when he replies by 
repeating her words, and by revealing that Mar- 
garet, Ursula, and Hero aver she is sick of love 
for him, she seems surprised. Their witty diflFer- 
ence finally attracts the attention of the rest, but 
when Leonato tries to make them publicly admit 
they like each other, they obstinately refuse to do so! 
Then Claudio slyly produces a paper on which Bene- 
dick was composing a sonnet to his lady, while Hero 
exhibits another on which Beatrice's sentiments for 
Benedick are betrayed. In face of this proof, the 
rebellious lovers no longer deny their passion, and 
Benedick stops all further protest on Beatrice's part 
by kissing her. 

Much Ado About Nothing 283 

When rallied by Don Pedro for breaking his oath, 
and becoming the very thing he vowed he would 
never be, * Benedick the married man,' the youth 
glories in his new bonds, jocosely bidding the prince 
get a wife, too, and inviting all present follow him 
and his bride to the dancing hall. 

The wedding party has just vanished out of sight 
when a messenger announces that the traitor Don 
John has been caught, and is being brought back to 
Messina, where Benedick promises to help Don 
Pedro devise * brave punishments for him.* 


Act L The first act opens in the palace of the 
G)unt of Rousillon, just as his widow is bidding 
farewell to her son, Bertram, who has been sum- 
moned to court. The mother is loath to part with 
him, but Lafeu, the messenger, graciously assures 
her the king will father the youth, and further his 
fortunes. Close beside the countess stands Helena, 
whose tears the messenger notices, just after his 
hostess has mentioned how she regrets the death of 
the physician, who sojourned with them, — the father 
of the young lady beside her, — for she feels sure he 
could have cured the king's illness, which the courtier 
reports serious. When Lafeu inquires the name of 
this doctor, the countess introduces Helena, and 
fancies her tears are for her dead parent. Although 
warmly praising the maiden, who * derives her hon- 
esty and achieves her goodness,' the countess warns 
her people may deem her grief affectation, until 
Helena exclaims hers is no feigned sorrow. She 
does not even notice Lafeu's remark that * moderate 
lamentation is the right of the dead, excessive grief 
the enemy to the living,' but turns aside to escape 
further attention. 

Meanwhile, the countess bestows good advice 
upon her son, bidding him bear himself suitably at 
court; then addressing Lafeu, she begs him watch 


Alt's Well that Ends Well 285 

over the youth, whom she blesses ere leaving the 
room. The young lord now takes leave of Helena, 
urging her to *be comfortable to my mother, your 
mistress, and make much of her,' while the courtier 
bids her uphold her father's credit. 

After they have gone, Helena reveals in a soliloquy 
that her tears are for Bertram, whose image is 
graven in her heart, although she knows he is far 
above her in station. Her reminiscences of past joy 
in watching him are interrupted by the entrance of 
ParoUes, Bertram's follower, whom she knows to be 
a ' notorious liar,' a fool and coward, but with whom 
she indulges in frequent bouts of repartee. When 
he addresses her as * queen,' therefore, she retorts by 
hailing him as ' monarch,' and for a while they bandy 
remarks in Elizabethan taste. This word-skirmish 
ceases only when a page summons Parolles to attend 
his master, and Helena, relapsing into soliloquy, 
concludes that *our remedies oft in ourselves do 
lie,* for she has suddenly thought of a plan whereby 
she can, perchance, relieve the king and avoid losing 
sight of the man she loves. 

In the next scene we are transferred to the king's 
palace, just as he is telling his courtiers that Flor- 
ence and Sienna being at war, a call for assistance 
has come from the former city. Although the king 
himself does not wish to appear openly in the fray, 
he gives his nobles permission to enter Tuscan 
service; for this war, — ^as one of the courtiers ex- 
plains, — ^will serve as * a nursery to our gentry, who 
are sick for breathing and exploit.' 

Just then Bertram is ushered in, — followed by 

286 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

Lafeu and ParoUes, — and is graciously welcomed by 
the king, who remembers his father as one of the 
cherished companions of his youth. Such is the 
praise the monarch lavishes upon the deceased count 
of Rousillon, that Bertram rejoins his father 'lies 
richer in your thoughts than on his tomb/ for even 
an epitaph could not laud the departed more ex- 
travagantly. G)nsumed with sadness and suffering, 
the king soon adds he wishes he were beside his 
former companion, one of whose favourite sayings 
was, * let me not live after my flame lacks oil.' Al- 
though the courtiers try to encourage their monarch, 
he insists he has not long to live, and inquires when 
the famous physician died in the castle of Rousillon? 
When Bertram states this happened six months ago, 
the king sighs that were this man still living, he 
would gladly try his skill, for nature and sickness 
have long been disputing the possession of his poor 
body. Then, after a last gracious word to the 
newcomer, the monarch departs with his train. 

We return to the castle of Rousillon, where the 
countess, summoning her steward and clown, in- 
quires what they have to report in regard to her 
gentlewoman? Such are the rambling answers she 
receives, and the clown's anxiety to obtain her con- 
sent to his marrying, that she has to dismiss him 
ere she can question the steward in peace. She then 
learns that Helena has been brooding lately, and 
that, while talking to herself, was overheard to con- 
fess she loved Bertram, and that fortune was cruel 
to place such difference between their estates* He 
feels confident the young lady has, besides, some 

'JlFs Well that Ends Well 287 

plan in view, and hence deems it his duty to warn 
his mistress. After thanking the steward for this 
information, the countess dismisses him, with orders 
not to mention the matter, and, while waiting for 
Helena, murmurs she felt just the same when she 
was young, for * this thorn doth to our rose of youth 
rightly belong.* 

As soon as Helena comes in, the countess ad- 
dresses her in tender tones, saying she considers her- 
self her mother. Because the maiden starts at the 
word * mother,* the countess repeats it, seeming sur- 
prised when Helena rejects such relationship. Urged 
to explain, the girl declares it is impossible a humble 
maiden should be sister to the high-born Bertram, 
whose servant and vassal she will always be, but 
whom she has no desire to call brother. When the 
countess tenderly inquires whether she is equally 
reluctant to accept her as mother, the girl hesitates; 
then replies she would not be Bertram's sister under 
any circiunstances. With kindly emphasis, the 
countess then explains she might become her daughter 
by marrying her son, and noting Helena's change of 
colour and lack of response gently reproves her for 
obstinacy. She thus gradually induces the girl to 
admit a love for Bertram, which, in spite of all her 
attempts to root it out of her heart, has constantly 
grown and increased. Still, because her affection is 
pure and true, Helena implores the countess * let not 
your hate encounter with my love for loving where 
you do,' and craves permission to carry out a cher- 
ished plan. This consists in a journey to Paris, 
to offer the king one of her father's prescrip- 

288 Stories of Shakespeare^ s Comedies 

tions, which, she feels confidei;it, will cure his 

When the countess shrewdly inquires whether this 
IS her sole motive, Helena truthfully rejoins that, 
had not Bertram gone there first, she might never 
have thought of carrying medicine to his majesty. 
But, when the countess objects that the learned 
physicians at court may refuse to let a maiden try 
her skill, Helena declares that, if the king will only 
grant her leave to try, success will ensue, and that 
no time is to be lost. Convinced by these words, 
the countess not only allows her to depart, but fur- 
nishes money and attendants, so she can present her- 
self at court in a suitable manner, proposing, mean- 
while, to remain at home, and pray God to bless her 

Act n. The second act opens in the palace in 
Paris, just as the king is taking formal leave of the 
nobles who are to take part in the Florentine wars. 
After expressing thanks for his good wishes, one 
lord voices the fervent hope they will find him better 
on their return. The monarch, however, sadly re- 
joins this cannot be, although his * heart will not con- 
fess he owes the malady that doth his life besiege.* 
Then, playfully cautioning the youths against the 
wiles of Italian maidens, the king leaves the room. 
While the lords chat together, Bertram openly re- 
grets being ordered to remain at court, for he longs 
to take part in the adventures his companions are 
seeking abroad. Perceiving his regret, his com- 
panions playfully suggest he steal away, advice he is 
inclined to follow when they take leave of him 

All's Well that Ends Well 289 

and Parolles, who, meantime, has been boasting 
freely of the deeds he once performed in Italy. 
The lords have scarcely gone, when ParoUes urges 
Bertram to remain with them until they leave, for he 
secretly hopes his master will yet decide to join them 
in Florence.' 

As Bertram and his attendant pass out of the 
room, the king comes in and sits down. He is sunk in 
reverie when Lafeu kneels before him, begging par- 
don for intruding, but craving a boon. Invited to 
speak, the courtier inquires whether the king would 
like to be cured of his infirmity, and hearing him 
answer ' no,* pityingly rejoins it is the old story of 
fox and grapes! When he adds that a doctor has 
come whose remedies can raise the dead, the king in- 
quires who it may be, and is so surprised on learning 
it is a woman, that curiosity overcomes his reluctance. 
He therefore bids Lafeu admit her, threatening him 
with ridicule in case he spoke too highly of her. De- 
lighted with the success of his venture, Lafeu hurries 
out, to return immediately with Helena, whom he 
fussily introduces, bidding her speak her mind to the 
king, and leaving the two together only after mak- 
ing a would-be facetious remark. 

The monarch now questions Helena, who gravely 
states her father, on his deathbed, entrusted to her 
keeping a wonderful remedy for the very disease 
from which the king is suffering. It is this nostrum 
she tenders, for which kindness the king graciously 
thanks her, saying, however, it is useless to try it 
as his physicians have pronounced his malady past 
cure. Hearing him refuse her oflEer, Helena begs 

290 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

to be dismissed with a kind thought, so she can re- 
turn home. Then the king, touched by her unselfish 
desire to serve him, expresses such gracious thanks, 
that Helena feels emboldened to urge it would do 
him no harm to try her remedy, and to remind him 
that wisdom has often come from the mouth of 
babes. Although the king persists in his refusal, 
Helena, detecting wavering in his tone, expresses 
such confidence in her drug that he finally inquires 
how long it would take to show its efiEect? Hear- 
ing the young lady state the miracle would be ac- 
complished in forty-eight hours, the king asks what 
she would be willing to stake on the venture, and 
when she exclaims her very life, decides to try her 
physic. Although he warns her it may minister to 
her death should he succumb, Helena remains un- 
daunted, and confidently inquires what reward he 
will grant her if she succeed? The king swearing 
by his scepter she shall choose it herself, she requests 
that since he can dispose of the bachelors in his realm, 
he will permit her to select a husband among those 
beneath royal rank. Not only does the king readily 
subscribe to this, but shakes hands upon it ere leav- 
ing the room with * Dr. She,' who is to make the im- 
mediate test of her remedy, and thus save his life, if 

We are next vouchsafed another glimpse in the 
castle of Rousillon, just as the countess has sum- 
moned her clown, and, after wasting many words in 
bandying witty remarks with him, entrusts to his 
keeping a letter he is to carry to Helena at court. 

Meantime Bertram, conversing in the p^hce with 

AWs Well that Ends Well 291 

Lafeu and ParoUes, learns that, although people 
claim the age of miracles is past, strange things can 
still happen! The miracle now causing a sensa- 
tion at court is the fact that, at the end of two days, 
the new remedy has caused such a difference in the 
king's health that he has been pronounced cured. 
They are still discussing the wonder, when the king 
enters with Helena, whom all regard curiously, and 
whom ParoUes recognises as an old acquaintance, 
when the king presents her to the court as his pre- 

After summoning all his followers, the king bids 
Helena consider the bachelors and select among 
them the one she desires to marry. Greeting them 
courteously, Helena considers each in turn, while 
Lafeu openly regrets not to be eligible for her favour. 
Addressing the bachelors, Helena states that, being a 
maid, she blushes at having to make a public choice. 
Still, encouraged by the king, she approaches one 
noble and asks whether he would be willing to listen 
, to her suit ? Although he expresses cordial readi* 
ness, she passes on to another, whose answer Lafeu 
deems too cold, since he mutters 'these boys are 
boys of ice ! ' Finally, Helena pauses before Ber- 
tram, declaring she dares not say she takes him, but 
that she is willing to give herself and her service 
ever, whilst she lives, into his guiding power. 

Seeing her choice is made, the king orders Bertram 
to marry her, but the youth restively vows he will 
select his own wife ! When the monarch indignantly 
reminds him of what Helena has done in his behalf, 
Bertram acknowledges her services, but persists that 

292 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

is no reason why he should marry her. Then the 
king insists, but Bertram expresses such disdain for 
a person brought up as dependant in his mother's 
house, that his sovereign reproves him for haughti- 
ness, and promises to bestow gifts upon Helena, 
which, backed with her virtue, will equal any rank! 
Because Bertram petulantly rejoins he cannot love 
her and will not try to do so, Helena implores the 
monarch not to insist, and declares herself satisfied; 
but this faib to please his majesty, who, feeling his 
honour engaged, orders Bertram to make good his 
word, under penalty of his * revenge and hate.* Thus 
adjured, Bertram is forced to yield, although he mut- 
ters he submits his fancy to the king's eyes, when, at 
the monarch's command, he takes Helena's hand, and 
all file out of the room for the wedding. 

The only persons left on the stage are Lafeu and 
ParoUes, who discuss this forced match. During 
this interview Lafeu discovers what a hollow boaster 
ParoUes is, and shows such contempt for him that, 
when he leaves the room for a moment, his inter- 
locutor mutters he will get even with him yet! On 
returning, Lafeu reports the marriage concluded, 
and, when ParoUes resumes his boasting, calls him a 
worthless, saucy fellow, and turns his back upon him 
in scorn. 

Shortly after Lafeu has gone, Bertram joins 
ParoUes, petulantly complaining he is undone, and 
* forfeited to cares forever ! ' In his anger, he vows 
he will have nothing to do with the bride forced 
upon him, but will hasten ofl to the Tuscan wars, 
in spite of the king. He has, besides, no desire to 

JlFs Well that Ends Well 293 

ascertain what the letters contain which have come 
from his mother, but is eager to depart, a decision 
welcome to ParoUes, who is longing to go to 
Italy. He, therefore, strengthens his young mas- 
ter's resolution by every means in his power, assur- 
ing him, among other things, that ' a young man 
married is a man that's marr'd,' and urging him to 
avenge the wrong the king has done him by for- 
saking his bride. 

After they have gone, Helena enters with the 
clown, who has brought her letters, and from whom 
she inquires about her mistress's health. These two 
are soon joined by ParoUes, who, after a wordy en- 
counter with the clown, delivers a message from 
Bertram, to the effect that Helena is to return im- 
mediately to Rousillon, as business calls her Kusband 
away, and will prevent his joining her for a few 
days, in spite of his fervent desire to be with her. 
Bertram's orders are that his new-made wife take 
immediate leave of the king, offering such apologies 
as she thinks fit, and, this done, present herself be- 
fore him, as he wishes to give her his last orders. 

Meantime, Lafeu has gone in quest of Bertram, to 
warn him that his follower, ParoUes, is a mere 
trifler — a warning the youth scorns because he has 
taken this man at his own estimate. When 
ParoUes enters, therefore, reporting Helena is al- 
ready on her way to the king, Bertram states that, 
having written his letters, collected his treasures, and 
given orders for his horses, he will depart at the very 
hour when he should take possession of his bride! 
During this scene, ParoUes vainly tries to conciliate 

294 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

Lafeu, who dubs him a nut without kernel, tells 
Bertram ' the soul of this man is in his clothes/ and 
repeats he is not to be trusted * in matter of heavy 
consequence;' all of which warnings prove vain. 

It is now that Helena humbly presents herself 
to receive her husband's orders, and is told that, al- 
though called away from her side, Bertram will soon 
rejoin her, but that, meantime, she is to hasten 
home, and deliver to his mother the letter he en- 
trusts to her keeping. Rejoining that she is his 
obedient servant, and will try * with true observance 
to eke out that wherein toward -me my homely 
stars have fail'd to equal my great fortune,' Helena 
is impatiently interrupted by Bertram, who bids her 
begone. Although she implores him to part kindly 
from her with a kiss, he dismisses her abruptly, and 
after she has vanished, grimly vows he will never 
visit his home as long as she is there! Then, turn- 
ing to his companion, he invites him to flee with 
him to Italy. 

Act III, The third act opens in a palace in 
Florence, where the duke has interviewed the French 
noblemen, and explained to them his quarrel with 
Sienna. All the young adventurers pronounce his 
cause holy, and report that, although their monarch 
would gladly help him, he can do so only by allow- 
ing his nobles to join in the enterprise. Promising 
to welcome all who come, the duke announces they 
will take to the field on the morrow. 

In the castle of Rousillon the countess has just 
finished perusing a letter brought by the clown, 
which announces her son's marriage and the return 

All's Well that Ends Well 295 

of the bride. She marvels that Bertram should not 
accompany Helena, which causes the clown to term 
him a melancholy man, a statement he explains by 
describing how absent-mindedly the youth continu- 
ally sang the same tune, thereby betraying a pre- 
occupied mind. While the countess reads her mis- 
sive a second time, the clown avers court life has 
spoiled him for his country sweetheart, and leaves 
the room. 

Left alone, the countess cons aloud her news, for 
Bertram writes that forced to marry against his 
will, he refuses to live with his wife, and has run 
away. Indignant at such conduct, the mother calls 
him a *rash and unbridled boy, to fly the favours 
of so good a king,' and adds he is shaming a maid 
too virtuous to be scorned by an emperor. 

It is at this moment the clown announces the 
arrival of his young lady, escorted by two gentle- 
men who bring terrible tidings. When the countess 
tremulously inquires what he means, he comforts 
her with the assurance that war is not the most 
dangerous occupation! Just then Helena and her 
companions enter, and, after greeting them, the 
countess, without heeding a despairing cry from 
Helena, asks about her son ? The gentlemen explain 
that Bertram has gone to Florence to offer his 
services to the duke, and then Helena tenders the 
letter they brought her, wherein this youth baldly 
states that, until she secure possession of his an- 
cestral ring, and can boast she is mother of his 
child, he will never behold her! Learning this 
cruel ultimatum was entrusted to the$^ gentlemen. 

296 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

the countess ihforms them she will have nothing 
further to do with her recreant son, but will adopt 
Helena as her child in his stead. This gives Helena 
sufficient courage to finish perusing her letter, which 
contains the additional statement that, imtil Ber- 
tram learns he is wifeless, he will never return 

Such a dedsion increases the wrath of the countess^ 
who vows her daughter-in-law deserves * a lord that 
twenty such rude boys might tend upon.' But 
when she learns how Bertram has gone to Italy with 
Parolles, she realises her boy's * well-derived na- 
ture ' is being corrupted by a * man full of wicked- 
ness.' She, therefore, enjoins upon the gentlemen, — 
who are on their way to Florence, — to tell Bertram 
* his sword can never win the honour that he loses,' 
and to convey a letter she will write. Promising 
obedience, the gentlemen follow her out of the room, 
while Helena, left alone on the stage, muses on Ber- 
tram's cruel ultimatum, and decides he shall soon 
have no wife in France, since she means to run away, 
in hopes that when rumours of her flight reach him, 
he will return and cease exposing his * tender limbs ' 
to * the event of non-sparing war ! ' Then she 
leaves the stage, exclaiming that, as soon as night 
falls, she will steal away like a thief. 

We now behold the palace in Florence, where 
the duke is appointing Bertram his general of horse, 
a charge the youth modestly deems beyond his 
capacity, although his superior encourages him to 
assume and perform it with valour. 

Returning to the castle in Rousillon, we next per- 

All's Well that Ends Well 297 

ceive the countess interviewing her steward, who 
has just deh'vered a letter from Helena. The mis- 
tress reproves him for accepting such an errand, 
stating he might have known the missive would 
never have been entrusted to him unless his young 
lady was about to depart. On reading the letter 
aloud, the steward discovers that Helena has gone 
on a pilgrimage to St. Jacques, and wishes her hus- 
band informed that she is no longer in France, so 
he may return home without breaking his vow. 
Meantime, she fervently hopes death may overtake 
her during this journey, and thus set Bertram 
definitely free. Had the countess known Helena's 
intentions sooner, she would have defeated them, 
for she vows her unworthy son will never thrive, 
unless his wife's prayers divert Heaven's wrath from 
him. Then she bids the steward write to Bertram 
all that has occurred, hoping he will return, and 
that Helena, urged by love, will come back, for, 
* which of them both is dearest * to her she cannot 
tell. Finally, oppressed by all the sorrows assailing 
her at once, she leaves the stage crying, * grief would 
have tears, and sorrow bids me speak.' 

The next scene is played outside the walls of 
Florence, where a number of people have assembled 
to witness the return of the troops, it having been 
rumoured that Bertram has distinguished himself 
in the late encounter. Chief among the spectators 
is a widow lady, with her daughter and neighbours, 
and the latter rally the young woman upon having 
made a conquest of the French nobleman. This 
damsel, whose name is Diana, doesn't deny the 

298 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

fact, but good-naturedly receives her neighbours* 
warning that men are deceivers, and that many 
dangers beset maidens. While all stand talking, 
Helena joins them in the guise of a pilgrim, and the 
widow, who entertains such travellers, eagerly of- 
fers her lodgings. 

While they are talking, a military march re- 
sounds, and the widow informs Helena that if she 
will wait a few moments, she can witness the tri- 
umphal return of one of her countrymen, who has 
' done worthy service.* On hearing this hero is the 
Count of Rousillon, Helena claims to have already 
heard his praises, and listens eagerly while Diana 
relates how the youth stole away from France, hav- 
ing been married, contrary to his will, to a lady 
of whom his companion, Parolles, speaks most dis- 
paragingly. At mention of this name, Helena ex- 
claims she can credit Parolles had nothing good to 
say of her, a remark Diana does not heed, for she 
avers it must be hard to be wife to a lord who de- 
tests you, while her proud mother plainly intimates 
her child experienced no difficulty to win that 
young nobleman's affections! Then, perceiving 
Helena's interest, the widow relates how Bertram 
has been courting Diana for some time past, adding 
that naught save honesty prevented her listening to 
his suit. Just then the troops file past, and the 
widow points out Bertram, while Diana, designating 
Parolles, vows, were she Bertram's wife, she would 
poison that rascal for leading his master astray. The 
troops having passed, the widow offers to guide the 
pilgrim to her house, an invitation Helena accepts, 

All's Well that Ends Well 299 

bidding all present to supper, and promising to be- 
stow some good advice upon Diana. 

We now behold the camp before Florence, where 
Bertram, talking to his mother's messengers, is told 
he is greatly mistaken in his estimate of Parolles, 
whom the lords sweepingly designate as * a most 
notable coward, an infinite and endless liar, an 
hourly promise-breaker, the owner of no one good 
quality worthy your lordship's entertainment.* In 
proof of the truth of this estimate, they propose 
Parolles be challenged to recover a lost drum, in re- 
gard to which he has been making a great fuss. As 
Bertram consents to this test, Parolles no sooner en- 
ters than a lively and amusing dialogue ensues, dur- 
ing which the lords and Bertram play upon Parolles' 
vanity, until the boaster finally sallies forth upon 
his venture. Meanwhile his companions aver he 
will take no steps for the recovery of the dnmi, but 
will return with some astounding tale, and form a 
plot to expose him. 

One of the lords departing, Bertram volunteers to 
conduct the other to the widow's house and show 
him the beautiful lass of whom he has spoken so en- 
thusiastically. Still, he admits she met his advances 
coldly, although Parolles had assured him she was 
ready to accept his proposals. 

We are now transferred to the widow's house, 
where Helena, after an interview with her hostess, 
exclaims she must be convinced by this time of her 
identity. When the widow demurs that she will 
risk her reputation, Helena reiterates she is the 
count's lawful wife, and that, if her hostess will 

300 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

only aid her, she will not only give her a purse of 
gold, but will promise a greater reward later on. 
Helena's plan is that, since the count has been wooing 
the widow's daughter, Diana should pretend to yield 
to his suit and make an appointment with him, pro- 
vided he give her as pledge his ring. This jewel, 
Diana is to deliver to Helena, remaining chastely 
absent while Bertram's wife receives him in her 
stead; earning in return for such services a sum of 
money sufficient to enable her to contract an honour- 
able marriage. 

Enticed by such a bribe, the widow )aelds, and 
it is arranged that meeting shall take place that very 
night, Helena assuring her hostess that, if their plot 
succeed, it will be 'wicked meaning in a lawful 
deed, and lawful meaning in a lawful act, where 
both not sin, and yet a sinful fact.' 

Act IV. The fourth act opens in the Florentine 
camp, where some practical jokers are lying in am- 
bush to capture Parolles on his way back from his 
supposed enterprise, and make him think he has been 
taken by the foe. The men are instructed to use 
varieties of gibberish to gull Parolles, who is wel- 
come game to them all. A few minutes later the 
boaster draws near, muttering he has lain low for 
three hours past, and can now return with a plausi- 
ble tale to account for the lack of the drum. Talk- 
ing to himself, he wonders whether it would be bet- 
ter to slash his garments and break his sword as 
colour to his tale, while the plotters conunent on 
what he says. Suddenly, the men in ambush 
crowd around him, vociferating meaningless words, 

A IPs Well that Ends Well 301 

which are supposed to represent foreign languages. 
Seized and blindfolded, ParoUes cries that, if they 
will only take him where he can speak, he will * dis- 
cover that which shall undo the Florentine.' The 
whole scene proves most comical, owing to the 
gusto with which the soldiers play their part and, as 
Parolles leaves the stage under guard, one of the 
officers sends word to the Count of Rousillon that 
they have * caught the woodcock,' and will keep him 
until his arrival. 

The curtain rises once more on the widow's 
house, where Bertram is interviewing Diana, upon 
whom he lavishes compliments to entice her to con- 
sent to his wishes. Pretending reluctance, Diana 
gradually yields to her suitor's entreaties, stipulat- 
ing, however, that he give her the ring he wears. 
When Bertram objects to part with such an heir- 
loom, Diana pertly vows her chastity is equally 
precious, and makes it so apparent she will consent 
only if he yields to her request, that he bestows the 
ring upon her. Then she directs him to knock at 
her chamber window at midnight, so softly her 
mother shall not hear, promising to admit him, pro- 
vided he does not speak and remains with her but 
an hour. During that interview in the dark, she 
proposes to give him a ring as pledge of their secret 
troth, and of the explanation she promises him later 
on. Delighted with his success, Bertram departs, 
while Diana concludes her mother is a wise woman, 
since she told her exactly what Bertram would say, 
by what steps he would proceed, and how fervently 
he would promise marriage as soon as his wife was 

302 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

dead. The curtain falls just as she sagely decides 
it is no sin 'to cozen him that would unjustly 

In the Florentine camp, we now overhear the 
lords who have brought the countess* letter, openly 
blaming Bertram for having shaken ofiF a good wife. 
They add that the king is sorely displeased with 
him, and that rumours are afloat in camp he has 
perverted a Florentine lady upon whom he be- 
stowed his ancestral ring. By their talk we further 
learn that peace will speedily be concluded, and that 
the Count of Rousillon*s occupations being over, he 
will soon leave Florence for home. They add his 
wife left Rousillon two months before, and that her 
pilgrimage to St. Jacques has proved fatal, as a report 
claims she died by the way. At this point a mes- 
senger joins them, stating Bertram has already taken 
leave of the duke, who graciously * offered him let- 
ters of commendations to the king,' which will re- 
store him to favour. 

A moment later Bertram appears, commenting 
upon the fact that he is winding up his affairs, and 
has already written to his mother to announce his 
return. All that now remains for him to do is to 
see that Parolles convicts himself, and to keep his 
love-tryst. He, therefore, orders Parolles taken out 
of the stocks, — in which he has languished all night, 
— and brought blindfolded before him as before a 

Before long the prisoner is ushered in, volubly 
offering to reveal everything, provided he is let go. 
Throughout this scene the soldiers use gibberish, and 

All's Well that Ends Well 303 

when his interrogatory begins, ParoUes eagerly re- 
veals the exact number of the Florentine forces, and 
answers every question asked. He even offers to 
prove his statements by letters on his person. As the 
first they open and read is his warning to Diana 
in regard to Bertram, he jauntily proceeds to betray 
his master's private affairs, terming him contemptu- 
ously * a foolish, idle boy.' After wringing from 
ParoUes all the information they desire, and fright- 
ening him with dire threats of immediate execution, 
the soldiers unbind him, and remove his bandage. 
Then only the wretch discovers he is in the midst of 
his own people, in whose presence he has uttered 
all these mingled truths and lies. 

With a glance of withering scorn for his treach- 
ery, Bertram leaves him, an example soon followed 
by the rest, and ParoUes, perceiving all chance of 
favour and advancement gone, decides to thrive 
hereafter by villainy only, and not mind his 

Returning to the widow's hous^, we find Helena 
telling her hostess and daughter that, although she 
is supposed to be dead, and her husband has pre- 
ceded her on his way home, she will have to hasten 
to Marseilles with them to secure the king's aid. 
The widow, who admires Helena, vows she * never 
had a servant to whose trust her business was more 
welcome,' and expresses fervent thanks when Helena 
hopes her daughter may secure a good husband, 
thanks to the dowry she has earned. It is evident 
Diana does not mind the obloquy under which she 
rests, for she and her mother gladly accompany 

304 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

Helena, who exclaims: 'All's well that ends well/ 
adding, 'whatever the course, the end is the re- 

' nown.' 

The curtain next rises on the castle of Rousillon, 
where the countess is learning from Lafeu how her 
son was led astray by a worthless fellow named 
ParoUes, and how, had it not been for this, Helena 
might be still alive and Bertram in full enjoyment 
of royal favour. The countess wishes her son had 

. never known so bad an adviser, and entertains Lafeu 
and her clown with praises of the dead Helena. 
Dismissing the clown, whose witty remarks call forth 
a tip from Lafeu, and whom the countess excuses by 
saying her husband made so much of this jester that 
he considers it ' a patent for his sauciness,' the former 
conversation is resumed. Lafeu reports he is about 
to return to court, where he hopes to make Ber- 
tram's peace with the king, and arrange for his mar- 
riage with his daughter, for he has heard the youth 
is arriving from Marseilles with a suite of twenty 
men. On learning her son will be with her 
soon, the countess expresses delight, just as the glad 
tidings are confirmed by the clown's announcement 
that his master is coming, wearing a bandage across 
his face, which, Lafeu explains, covers a wound 
honourably received. 

Act V. The fifth act opens in Marseilles, where 
Helena, the widow, and Diana, have arrived, weary 
with posting night and day. In spite of her own 
fatigue, Helena greatly pities her companions, just as 
a gentleman joins them, whom she remembers having 
seen at court. To this emissary she eagerly en- 

Alps Well that Ends Well 305 

trusts a petition, and is dismayed to learn the king 
has already left Marseilles. Still, comforting herself 
with her favourite maxim, * all's well that ends well,* 
she inquires whither he is bound, and, learning he 
is to spend the night at Rousillon, bids the gentle- 
man hurry on with her petition, leaving her to 
follow as fast as possible, so as to receive the king's 
answer in person. 

We now behold a square before the castle of 
Rousillon, where the clown and ParoUes meet. On 
this occasion, ParoUes, — ^who brings a letter for 
Lafeu, — ^is so muddy and povery-stricken in appear- 
ance, that the clown orders him to stand at a re- 
spectful distance, as he cannot endure filth too close 
by. When Lafeu appears, the clown vanishes, and 
ParoUes humbly presents himself as *a man whom 
Fortune hath cruelly scratched.' Deeming he 
richly deserves such treatment at her hands, Lafeu 
feels no pity, but taunts ParoUes with the matter 
of the drum, ere he bids him begone. Then, hear- 
ing a trumpet announce the arrival of the king, he 
suddenly relents and sends ParoUes to the kitchen 
for something to eat, a small favour the villain 
thankfully receives. 

Next, the king is seen approaching, speaking to the 
countess, and assuring her his court lost a jewel in 
Helena, and that her son must be mad since he 
'lack'd the sense to know her estimation home!' 
Excusing Bertram under plea his shortcomings 
were due to ' the blaze of youth,' the countess pleads 
for his pardon, while Lafeu reminds the king that 
Bertram wronged himself most by losing a wife of 

3o6 Stories of Shakespeare^ s Comedies 


such perfection. The king graciously expressing his 
forgiveness and desire to see Bertram, a gentleman 
hurries off to get him. * 

Meantime the monarch asks Lafeu whether ru- 
mour is correct when it states this youth is about 
to marry his daughter? Learning such a plan has 
been mooted, the king consents to the match, be- 
cause the letters he has recently received speak so 
highly of Bertram. Just then, the }routh in ques- 
tion humbly presents himself, and, when the mon- 
arch addresses him as a sun which has been ob- 
scured for a time by clouds, he dutifully begs the 
royal pardon. After granting it, the monarch in- 
quires whether Bertram remembers Lafeu's daugh- 
ter, and hearing him enthusiastically praise her 
beauty, promises to forget the past, provided he im- 
mediately marry this young person. 

The countess expresses a fervent hope her son's 
second marriage will be more blessed than the first, 
and Lafeu welcomes his new son-in-law, who gives 
him a ring for his daughter, upon which the noble- 
man stares in amazement, because he saw it on Hel- 
ena's hand, when he took leave from her at court. 
As this is the ring Bertram received at Florence, dur- 
ing his midnight interview, he swears Helena never 
owned it. Hearing this, the king demands sight of 
the jewel, and recognises it as the one he bestowed 
upon Helena, in case ' her fortunes ever stood neces- 
sitied to help,' when, at sight of the token, he would 
grant any favour she asked. Unable to believe 
Helena would part with such a treasure, he does not 
qredit Bertram's assertion that the ring was never in 

Jirs Well that Ends Well 307 

her hands, especially as both the countess and Lafeu 
swear they saw her wear it. 

To account for his ownership of the ring, Bertram 
claims it was tossed to him from a casement in Flor- 
ence by a noble lady, whom he could not marry, 
being already bound. Deeming this mere evasion, 
the king repeats he gave the ring to Helena, and 
that Bertram can have obtained it only by rough 
means, or as love token. When Bertram reiterates 
that Helena never saw it, the king decrees the mat- 
ter be sifted to the bottom, and, knowing how Ber- 
tram hated his wife, orders him arrested until the 
affair is cleared up. But, as the guards lead the 
youth away, he angrily cries they can just as easily 
prove the ring was Helena's as that he lived with 
her in Florence, where she never was! 

At this juncture a gentleman delivers a petition 
sent by a Florentine lady, who vows it concerns the 
king as well as herself. On reading the petition, 
the king learns that Diana claims the Count of 
Rousillon as her husband, — now he is a widower, — 
he having promised her marriage in Florence. In- 
dignantly refusing to accept such a trifler as son-in- 
law, Lafeu is told by the king he must have won 
Heaven's favour, since this discovery occurred before 
the marriage with his daughter took place. Then, 
his majesty orders Bertram brought again before 
him, crying he fears foul play in regard to Helena. 

Once more ushered in, Bertram is undergoing re- 
proof at the king's hands, when the widow and 
Diana appear. When the king inquires who these 
strangers may be, Diana states she is the lady whose 

3o8 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

petition he holds, her mother adding they have come 
here to have their wrongs righted. Confronted with 
the ladies, Bertram does not deny knowing them, but 
glances so coldly upon Diana that she reproaches 
him for looking thus at his wife. When Bertram 
denies being her husband, Diana claims he prom- 
ised to marry her, while Lafeu mutters his reputa- 
tion is far too smirched to aspire to his daughter. 
Wishing to extricate himself from an awkward 
predicament, Bertram pronounces Diana ' a fond and 
desperate creature that some time I have laugh'd 
with,' until she exhibits his ring, asking whether 
a family treasure would have been bestowed upon 
her in that case? Besides, the countess, recognis- 
ing the jewel and perceiving the blush which rises 
to her son's cheek, declares the lady must have 
some claim upon him. When the king asks whether 
any one knows Diana, she calls for Parolles, who 
is inunediately summoned ; but hearing this man is to 
testify, Bertram protests he is *a most perfidious 
slave' who will say anything they wish, until 
silenced by a royal reminder that the lady holds his 

Seeing no other way out of the dilemma, Bertram 
now confesses Diana angled for him, and by cunning 
methods obtained possession of his ring. Rejoining 
that a man who rejected so noble a first wife must be 
patiently dealt with, Diana offers to release Ber- 
tram, provided he will return her own token. When 
he says it has passed out of his keeping, the king ques- 
tions him, until he discovers that the very ring sup- 
posed to have been thrown out of a window is the 

All's Well that Ends Well 309 

one bestowed upon Kim in the midnight interview! 
The monarch is chiding Bertram for duplicity, when 
ParoUes is shown in, and testifies that his master has 
tricks * which gentlemen have.* But, when the king 
inquires whether Bertram loved Diana, ParoUes 
states he did and did not, admitting that he served 
as go-between, and was aware of their midnight 

Satisfied in regard to this point, the king asks how 
Diana obtained the ring she bestowed upon her 
lover, and learns it was neither lent nor found, al- 
though she was not present at the love tryst! Be- 
cause she refuses to add anything further, the king 
bids her to speak or die within an hour, and orders 
her removed from the scene. Driven thus to bay, 
Diana offers bail, declaring she has accused Ber- 
tram * because he is guilty and he is not guilty,' and 
reiterating that her reputation has been smirched, 
although she can swear she is a maid. Because such 
contradictory statements are received with incredu- 
lity, Diana urges her mother to produce her bail, im- 
ploring his majesty to postpone judgment until he 
hears the jeweller who owns the ring. Meantime, 
she insists that Bertram's conscience should trouble 
him, and adds a pertinent statement, just as the 
widow ushers in Helena, whom the king immedi- 
ately recognises, although she claims to be only the 
* shadow of a wife.' 

At the same moment, recognising his wronged 
spouse, Bertram humbly begs her pardon, while 
Helena tells him, ' When I was like this maid, I 
found you wondrous kind.' She then produces his 

3IO Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

letter stating under what conditions he will acknowt 
edge her, and claims they have all been fulfilled, 
thanks to Diana's aid. Still half incredulous, yet 
greatly relieved, Bertram promises to love Helena 
dearly, provided all is made clear, while she rejoins 
that unless he is satisfied, she hopes * deadly divorce ' 
may step between them. 

The scene wherein husband and wife are thus 
brought together, proves so affecting that Lafeu has 
to borrow a handkerchief from ParoUes to staunch 
his tears! Meantime, the king promises to pay 
Diana's dowry provided she has told the truth, and 
the play closes with an epilogue, stating the dowry 
had to be paid, and calling for the public's applause. 


Act I. The first act opens in Vienna, in the 
palace, just as the duke is informing his worthy 
counsellor, Escalus, that, trusting in his wisdom, he 
appoints him chief adviser of the man who will rep- 
resent him during his absence. Then, after sending 
for this individual, he asks Escalus' opinion of his 
choice? The counsellor gravely rejoins that, if any 
man in Vienna * be of worth to undergo such ample 
grace and honour, it is Lord Angelo,' who just then 

After praising Angelo for his modest, virtuous 
character, the duke bids him take charge of the gov- 
ernment during his absence, altering and amending 
the laws as he sees fit. Although Angelo demurs 
that a test of his merit should be made before en- 
trusting him with such responsibility, the duke names 
him his substitute, and gives him Escalus as ad- 
viser. Then, refusing Angelo's escort, the duke 
departs, confident he is leaving his affairs in good 
hands. After he has gone, Escalus begs to consult 
with Angelo, who invites him therefore to accom- 
pany him home. 

When the curtain next rises, we behold a street 
in Vienna, where Lucio, a gentleman, talking to two 
companions, wonders whether the duke will suc- 
ceed in making peace with Hungary? Their 


312 Stories of Shakespeare^ s Comedies 

^ri^tly conversation toudies upon sundry other 
topics, thus giving the spectators an idea of society in 
Vienna at that epoch. These three yonng men are 
finally interrupted by Mistress Overdone, keeper of 
a house of ill-fame, with whom all three are ac- 
quainted. She seems agitated, and, in answer to 
their questions, informs them a man has just been 
arrested who is worth five thousand of them all! 
This statement rouses dieir curiosity to such a 
pitch that she has to explain how Claudio has just 
been sent to prison by the duke's deputy, who has 
suddenly revived an old law condemning seducers to 
deadi. While there is no doubt of Claudio 's guilt, 
the law not having been enforced for the past nine- 
teen years, no one anticipated it woidd ever be 
called into play. Dismayed by these tidings, the 
three gentlemen hurry away, while the woman hails 
her servant Pompey, who breathlessly reports she 
has heard aright, — for Claudio is arrested, with 
Juliet his victim, — and further pursuit of their 
nefarious business is prohibited. 

It is at this moment that the provost passes, escort- 
ing his two prisoners to jail. When Claudio objects 
to being thus exposed to public view, the provost re- 
joins he is acting by Lord Angelo's orders, and the 
young man bitterly realises how 'the demigod 
Authority makes us pay down for our offence.* A 
moment later, he is accosted by Lucio and the two 
gentlemen, who hasten up inquiring why he is in cus- 
tody? Without trying to gloss over his wrong- 
doing, Claudio explains how Juliet was betrothed 
to him, and that, had not her relatives wished to 

Measure for Measure 313 

use her dower money for trading, their marriage 
could have taken place and the present catastrophe 
have been averted. Unable to marry immediately, 
the impatient lovers met secretly, as is betrayed by 
Juliet's condition. Still, it is plain the new deputy 
is using his authority to make his power felt, since 
he has just revived this long disregarded law. 

When Lucio suggests that an appeal be made to 
the duke, Claudio rejoins he has vainly tried to 
do so, but that the ruler has vanished, leaving no 
trace. His last hope is that his sister Isabella will 
intercede in his behalf, so he beseeches Lucio to 
hasten off to the convent where she is a novice, ac- 
quaint her with his peril, and implore her to use her 
influence with the governor to secure his pardon. 
Promising to fulfil this request, Lucio hurries off 
in one direction, while the officers lead away their 
prisoners in the other. 

We next behold a monastery outside of Vienna, 
where the duke assures Friar Thomas he is asking 
for shelter and disguise, merely so as to circulate 
through the streets of Vienna unrecognised, and 
ascertain how his substitute is executing the laws. 
The duke sadly adds he is to blame for many of the 
disorders, because he feared, by enforcing certain 
laws, to forfeit the love of his people. Nevertheless, 
seeing crime flourish, he realises it is imperative to 
check it, and bring the people back to virtuous ways. 
He has, therefore, appointed Angelo, a man of 
merit, as his substitute, but wishes to make sure he 
is all he seems, and that the exercise of power will 
not change his character. 

314 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

The next scene is played in the nunnery, where 
Isabella, talking to a sister, inquires what privileges 
are granted to nuns ? The answers she receives cause 
her to exclaim conventual restraint is not nearly so 
severe as she anticipated, just as a man's voice is 
heard without clamouring for admittance. Bid- 
ding Isabella take the key and open the door (be- 
cause she, as a professed nun, cannot speak to a man), 
the sister withdraws, leaving the young novice to 
open. Isabella thus finds herself face to face with 
Lucio, who breathlessly inquires for * the fair sister 
to her unhappy brother, Claudio.' These words so 
startle Isabella that she asks why Claudio is un- 
bappy, ere she thinks of saying she is the person he 
seeks. When Lucio states her brother is in prison 
for seduction, Isabella fancies at first he is mocking 
her, but when the messenger reiterates this state- 
ment, naming the lady in trouble, Isabella cries her 
brother should atone for his crime by marrying Juliet 
inunediately. Then Lucio explains how the duke's 
substitute proposes to enforce a long disregarded law 
by making an example of Claudio, and that the only 
way to save him is to try and soften Angelo's heart 
by her entreaties. Frightened by the imminent 
danger of her beloved brother, Isabella promises to 
do all she can in his behalf, sending word to Claudio 
that she will let him know how she speeds, and de- 
laying only long enough to inform the Superior of 
her intentions. 

Act II. The second act opens in Angelo's house, 
where he and the counsellor sit in state rendering 
justice, and where Angelo virtuously states * we must 

Measure for Measure 315 

not make a scarecrow of the law, setting it up to 
fear the birds of prey, and let it keep one shape, till 
custom make it their perch and not their terror. 
The counsellor, knowing he is referring to Claudio's 
case, nevertheless pleads in behalf of the youth, 
whose family he knows. When he ventures to re- 
mind the governor that, exposed to similar tempta- 
tions, they might have fallen in the same way, 
Angelo sanctimoniously rejoins, * 'Tis one thing to 
be tempted, Escalus, another thing to fall.' Then, 
determined the law shall be executed to the letter, 
he reiterates Claudib must die, and, calling for the 
provost, bids him provide the culprit with a confessor 
to prepare for ' the utmost of his pilgrimage,* and 
see that the execution take place at nine o'clock on the 
morrow. The provost having departed to carry out 
these orders, the counsdlor hopes Heaven will for- 
give the governor and them all, as it seems a pity a 
youth should be condemned for one fault only, since 
'some rise by sin, and some by virtue fall.' 

It is at this juncture a constable ushers in Pom- 
pey and another youth, whom he reports having ar- 
rested as * notorious benefactors,' for he constantly 
misuses words in this way. His report in regard 
to the prisoners proves so long-winded that Angelo 
goes away, bidding Escalus try the case and whip 
the offenders if guilty. The counsellor, therefore, 
continues the examination, and, being inclined to 
leniency, dismisses both hardened and punning sin- 
ners with a reprimand, warning them they will be 
liable to all the severity of the law should they re- 
lapse into evil ways. 

3i6 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

The accused dismissed, Escalus interviews the 
constable, and, finding he has held office many years 
in succession, bids him select a substitute. Then, 
inviting the judge to dinner, Escalus leaves, still 
shaking his head over Claudio's sentence, although 
he knows severity is needful, for * mercy is not it- 
self, that oft looks so ; pardon is still the nurse of 
second woe.' 

In another room of the same house, a servant in- 
forms the provost that Angelo is trying a case, but 
will soon appear. This man having gone, the 
provost expresses a hope Angelo may relent, just as 
his superior enters the apartment. When he dif- 
fidently inquires whether Claudio must die, remark- 
ing that judges have repented of sentences when too 
late, he discovers repentance is far from the heart of 
Angelo, who sternly orders him to do his office 
or relinquish his place! Not daring offer further 
objections, the provost humbly inquires what he is 
to do with Juliet, whose time of trial is drawing 
near? After giving the necessary directions in re- 
gard to her custody, Angelo is informed by a servant 
the sister of the condemned man begs for an audi- 
ence. Surprised to think Claudio has a sister (whom 
the provost describes as a virtuous lady shortly to be 
admitted into a sisterhood), Angelo orders his vis- 
itor admitted, and repeats his orders in regard to the 

The opening door now admits Isabella and Ludo, 
just as Angelo bids the provost assist at this inter- 
view. In touching terms Isabella declares that, 
although she abhors one vice above all the rest, she 

Measure for Measure 317 

must plead for its forgivteess, seeing it is her 
brother who is condemned to die. She, therefore, 
beseeches the governor to punish the fault, yet let the 
culprit live, her plea being supported by muttered en- 
couragements from the provost. But when Angelo 
sternly rejoins that a fault cannot be condemned 
without the doer, poor Isabella, deeming her prayers 
vain, recognises it is a just but severe law, and sighs 
she had a brother. 

She is about to turn away in despair, when Lucio 
softly admonishes her not to give up, but kneel and 
implore, exclaiming that if she needed a pin she 
could not * with more tame a tongue desire it.' 
Thus encouraged, Isabella again inquires whether 
her brother must really die and entreats the judge 
to make use of his unlimited authority to pardon 
Claudio. Although admitting he could do so, 
Angelo insists sentence has been pronounced, and 
that it is too late to recall it. Still urged by Lucio, 
Isabella pleads eloquently in favour of mercy, saying, 
* not the king's crown, nor the deputed sword, the 
marshal's truncheon, nor the judge's robe, become 
them with one-half so good a grace as mercy does.' 
She also sadly reminds the governor that if her 
brother * had been as you and you as he, you would 
have slipt like him; but he, like you, would not 
have been so stern.' 

Although Angelo turns his back upon her, Isa- 
bella continues to entreat, her prayers being prompted 
by Lucio, who softly urges her to keep them up. 
She, therefore, does so, even after Angelo repeats 
her brother ' is a forfeit of the law,' and that her 

3 1 8 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

words are wasted. When he baldly states Claudio 
shall die on the morrow, Isabella wails her brother 
is not prepared for death, adding that, even 'for 
our kitchens we kill the fowl of season: shall we 
serve heaven with less respect than we do minister 
to our gross selves?' Then she urges that Claudio 
be at least granted time to repent, gently reminding 
Angelo that, although many have been guilty of sim- 
ilar offences, none have died for it heretofore. Al- 
though this argument seems pertinent to Lucio, An- 
gelo rejoins 'the law hath not been dead, though 
it hath slept,' and that, had it only been rigidly en- 
forced from the beginning, no such disorders would 
have ensued as prevail at present in Vienna. 

Implored in spite of this logic to show mercy, An- 
gelo insists he can best do so by enforcing justice, 
and reiterates Claudio must die, although Isabella 
reminds him he is the first to pronounce so cruel a 
sentence, and her brother the first to feel its weight 
Egged on by secret signs from Lucio and the provost, 
Isabella urges that a man in authority should make 
use of that power mercifully, that gods never 
waste their thunders on small offences, and that it 
is only the man * drest in a little brief authority ' 
who inclines to undue severity. Both Lucio and 
the provost subscribe to this, and, as they covertly 
sign to her to keep it up, she begs the governor to 
exercise Christian charity, remembering it is not 
right to * weigh our brother with ourself,' and im- 
ploring him to look down in his own heart, and see 
whether he has always been free from sin ? By this 
time, her beauty and emotion have produced so vivid 

X *\D 


Measure for Measure 319 

an impression upon Angelo that he has fallen in love 
with her, but he yields to his passion only enough 
to bid her call again on the morrow, when he may 
have a different answer to give her. Delighted 
with this slight concession, Isabella rapturously 
cries she will * bribe ' him, and, when Angelo in- 
dignantly inquires how, declares not with gold or 
precious stones, but with fervent prayers in his be- 

Then, overjoyed at having obtained a reprieve, 
Isabella retires with Lucio, while Angelo acknowl- 
edges * I am that way going to temptation, where 
prayers cross.' Left alone, he next marvels that a 
man, who has never felt the attraction of women 
before, should succumb now, and wonders whether 
' modesty may more betray our sense than woman's 
lightness?' He realises, however, that he has 
granted Isabella a second interview merely for the 
pleasure of seeing once more the spotless maiden, 
who has made a deeper impression upon his heart 
than he ever felt before. 

We next behold the prison, in which the duke 
enters, disguised as a friar, and telling the provost 
he has come to visit the prisoners. So as to min- 
ister intelligently to their needs, he inquires the 
nature of their offences; and, seeing Juliet pass, the 
provost points her out as one of the victims of the 
recently enforced seduction law. On learning a 
young man is to die on the morrow on this charge, 
the friar questions Juliet, only to discover that, lov- 
ing and truly beloved, she feels no remorse for her 
sin, but is ready ' to take her shame with joy.' 

320 Stories of Shakespeare^ s Comedies 

After dismissing her with his blessing, the friar visits 
the prisoner who is to die on her account, while 
Juliet bewails her lover's fate as the provost leads 
her ofF the scene. 

We are now transferred to a room in Angclo*s 
house, where he is debating whether to yield to Isa- 
bella's solicitations, for the temptation which as- 
sails him prevents his seeking aid in prayer as 
usual. It is while he is soliloquising on this sub- 
ject that a servant announces the arrival of Isabella, 
whom Angelo eagerly orders admitted alone. When 
the man has gone, he wonders why his blood rushes 
so madly to his head, and why his feelings are in 
such a turmoil? Next Isabella enters, humbly in- 
quiring what he has decided, and Angelo repeats her 
brother cannot live ; then, seeing she pretends to mis- 
understand him, he baldly states Claudio must die 
under his sentence. When the sister pleads for time 
for preparation, Angelo sternly refuses further re- 
prieve, holding forth virtuously against the heinous 
sin which Claudio has committed. Hearing Isa- 
bella timidly rejoin it is not considered as unpar- 
donable a crime on earth as in heaven, the gov- 
ernor sternly demands whether she would be willing 
to rescue her brother at the cost of her chastity? 
Then, as she exclaims nothing would induce her so 
to risk her soul, he artfully hints there might be 
charity in such a sin, a suggestion she does not un- 

After wringing from her an agonised admission 
that she would sacrifice anything to save her brother, 
Angelo plainly informs her he will pardon Claudio, 

Measure for Measure 321 

provided she grant a sinful favour. Thinking he is 
testing her virtue, Isabella, at first, shows only sur- 
prise, but when he assures her such is not the case, 
she indignantly threatens to denounce him, unless he 
sign her brother's pardon immediately. Angelo, 
who, this time, has shrewdl:- provided for an inter- 
view without witnesses, haughtily assures her she is 
at his mercy, as no one would believe her word 
against his. Then he cruelly adds that unless she 
yield, her brother shall * die the death,' giving her 
only twenty-four hours wherein to decide. Watch- 
ing him disappear after pronouncing this ultimatum, 
Isabella wildly wrings her hands, wondering where 
she can find aid and redress, for she is torn both 
ways, and suffers agony for the sake of the brother 
whom, nevertheless, she cannot rescue at the cost of 
her virtue. 

Act III. We now return to the prison, where 
the disguised duke is talking with Claudio, who has 
confided to him he still hopes for pardon. The friar 
advises him, however, to prepare for death, so 
Claudio, deeming his interlocutor the holy man he 
seems, bespeaks his aid. With due humility he 
listens to the sermon the duke preaches on the worth- 
lessness of life and the necessity of repentance — ^an 
eloquent speech for which Claudio has barely ex- 
pressed thanks, — ^when his sister demands admit- 
tance. It is while stepping out to make room for 
the newcomer, that the friar whispers to the provost 
to place him where he can see and hear this inter- 
view unnoticed. 

Meantime, brother and sister forget him, Claudio 

322 Stories of Shakespeare^ s Comedies 

being eager to learn what comfort Isabella brings. 
When she gravely tells him, * Lord Angelo, having 
affairs to heaven, intends you for his swift am- 
bassador/ he understands hope is vain. To his 
despairing inquiry whether no remedy can be found, 
Isabella refuses an answer, until she has ascertained 
he is brave enough to die should things come to the 
worst. It is only when duly assured of his phys- 
ical courage, that she dares impart Angelo's alterna- 
tive, which Claudio cannot credit, such is the gov- 
ernor's reputation for virtue. When convinced, 
however, his first impulse is to vow she shall not 
make such a sacrifice for his sake, but soon after the 
fear of death seizes him so sorely that he be- 
gins to argue that a sin committed for another's 
sake is less heinous than one indulged in for self- 
gratification. Finally, confessing he is afraid to 
die and go, *we know not where,' he beseeches 
Isabella to save him at any cost. Although his de- 
scription of what might befall his disembodied spirit 
is so ghastly that she shudders, Isabella maintains 
nothing could excuse wrongdoing on her part, and 
chides Claudio for asking her to forfeit her soul 
for his sake. In her righteous indignation, she bids 
him die if necessary, promising to pray for him dead, 
but refusing sin for him living. Then, as he con- 
tinues to plead, she concludes he is a man hard- 
ened to sin, to whom mercy would prove injurious, 
and that hence it is best he should die! 

It is at this moment the disguised duke reappears, 
expressing a desire to confer with Isabella, who steps 
aside to await his pleasure. Meanwhile, turning to 

Measure for Measure 323 

Claudio, the friar states he has overheard what 
his sister has said, and feels confident Angelo has 
merely been testing her virtue. He further assures 
the prisoner that as no hope of pardon remains, he 
had better make his peace with heaven as quickly 
as possible. Thus recalled to better sentiments, 
Claudio humbly begs his sister's pardon, and prom- 
ises to leave life without regret. Next the provost 
leads him away, leaving the friar, as requested, alone 
with the grieving sister. 

Addressing Isabella, the holy man gravely states 
' the hand that made you fair, made you good,' and 
adds he would wonder at Angelo's proposals, were 
he not aware that 'frailty hath examples for his 
falling.' When he asks what steps she means to 
take to save her brother, Isabella sadly replies she 
will tell Angelo it is better Claudio should die 
by law, than her son * be unlawfully bom,' adding 
that, as soon as the duke returns, she will reveal to 
him how sorely he was mistaken in his choice. 
While approving of this decision, the friar rejoins 
that if Isabella will follow his advice, meantime, 
she can right a wronged lady, redeem her brother 
from death while remaining stainless, and please the 
absent duke. Such a proposal amazes Isabella, who 
declares she has 'spirit to do anything that appears 
not foul.' Hearing this, the friar asks whether she 
ever heard of Mariana, a lady so solemnly betrothed 
to Angelo six years ago that the contract was equiv- 
alent to a marriage? He adds that, having lost 
brother and dower in a shipwreck shortly before the 
nui^tial ceremony, this lady was repudiated by An- 

324 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

gclo, under pretext he had discovered matters re- 
flecting upon her honour. When the friar adds that 
she still mourns the loss of her lover, and that Isa- 
bella can, if she chose, bring Mariana and her 
plighted husband together once more, the maiden 
gladly volunteers her services, provided he will 
point out vi^hat she is to do. Thereupon the holy 
man bids Isabella accept Angelo's proposals, and ap- 
point a midnight tryst, which Mariana will keep in 
her stead, an action he deems no sin, since they are 
formally plighted. Meantime, he proposes to be- 
take himself to the ' moated grange,' where this * de- 
jected Mariana ' dwells, so as to prepare her to play 
her part in deceiving Angelo. 

While Isabella hastens away comforted, the friar, 
in the street before the prison, encounters the con- 
stable with Pompey, whom the counsellor recently 
pardoned, but who has again infringed the law. 
After questioning culprit and official, the friar dis- 
covers this man is an inveterate sinner and punster, 
just as Lucio joins them, inquiring why Pompey is 
under arrest? A frequenter of the house where 
Pompey serves, Lucio indulges in doubtful jokes 
with him, ere he is taken away. Then, under pre- 
text of giving the news, Lucio informs the friar that 
the duke has been reported in various places, and 
that Angelo is ruling wisely in his absence, although 
a little more lenity might become his office. 

In reply to this statement, the friar explains An- 
gelo is fighting against a vice so prevalent that only 
severity can cure it. But when Lucio remarks the 
governor is not made of the same stuff as other 

Measure for Measure 325 

men, and that even the duke was not impeccable, the 
friar coldly contradicts him. Pretending to know 
many doubtful things about his master, Lucio con- 
tinues his tales, protesting meanwhile he loves the 
duke dearly, and knows what he is talking about. 
Threatening to report these calumnies, the friar, 
after answering a few questions in regard to Claudio, 
watches Lucio out of sight, and then comments there 
is ' no might nor greatness in mortality can censure 
'scape; black wounding calumny the whitest virtue 
strikes,' for he is conscious of being innocent of 
the crimes of which he has been so jauntily accused. . 

While the friar is thus soliloquising, the coun- 
sellor appears with the provost and officers, to order 
Mistress Overdone to prison, because, in spite of re- 
peated admonitions, she still infringes the law. 
.When the officers have led the protesting prisoner 
away, the counsellor sadly informs the provost 
Claudio will have to die, as Angelo refuses to yield 
to any intercession. He seems pleased, however, to 
hear that the friar, — to whom he is introduced,— r 
has visited this poor prisoner, and has given him the 
benefit of his ministrations. During the ensuing 
conversation, hearing the friar ask whether the duke 
was really inclined to pleasure as Lucio hinted, the 
counsellor warmly testifies in favour of his moral- 
ity. Then, satisfied that Claudio is in a proper 
frame of mind to die, he goes off to pay him a last 
visit, accompanied by the friar's blessing. 

Left alone upon the stage, the friar concludes 
that * he who the sword of heaven will bear should 
be as holy as severe,' and that Angelo should be 

326 Stories of Shakespeare^ s Comedies 

trebly ashamed to punish others for sins to which he 
is secretly inclined. He adds that, applying 'craft 
against vice,' Angelo shall be tricked this very night 
into receiving the betrothed he despised, and thus 
compelled to * perform an old contracting.* 

Act IV. The fourth act opens in the 'moated 
grange/ where Mariana is languidly listening to a 
love-song, which she interrupts as soon as she notices 
the approach of the *man of comfort.* When the 
friar erfters, he finds Mariana in a less merry mood 
than the sounds would imply, so exclaims that 
' music oft hath such a charm to make bad gpod, 
and good provoke to harm.' Then, he inquires 
whether any one has asked for him, and, seeing Isa- 
bella draw near, begs Mariana to go away for a 
while, and let him converse privately with the 
stranger. As soon as Mariana is out of earshot, the 
friar inquires whether Isabella has successfully per- 
formed her part, and learns how Angelo has ap- 
pointed as trysting-place a garden, for which he has 
given her the key, bidding her meet him there at mid- 
night. When the friar questions whether she can 
find her way in the dark, Isabella explains how An- 
gelo twice led her over every turn, how she warned 
him a servant would accompany her, — for she is 
supposed to be pleading for a brother's life, — and 
how, for that reason, their interview would have to 
be brief. Satisfied with these arrangements, the 
friar summons Mariana, and, introducing Isabella, 
bids her listen attentively to this lady's proposals, as 
they have his full sanction and approval. 

The ladies having gone off together, the friar 

Measure for Measure 327 

spends the time of waiting in meditating upon great- 
ness. Before long Isabella returns, triumphantly 
proclaiming that since he sanctions the plan, Mariana 
will help them. Then, she reminds her companion 
not to speak, and only on leaving to whisper softly 
* remember now my brother.' Thus schooled, Mari- 
ana promises to play her part, the friar again assur- 
ing her this act will be sinless, as Angelo is her hus- 
band by pre-contract. 

We are now transferred to a room in the prison, 
where the provost offers Pompey pardon, provided 
he will act as assistant to the executioner, who is 
summoned to teach the new candidate his duties. 
The conversation between these men proves lengthy 
but uninteresting, and, as soon as they leave the 
stage, Claudio appears and is shown his death- 
warrant by the provost. Then this official asks for 
Bemardine, who, instead of repenting, spends all 
his time drinking, and sends Claudio back to his 
cell, hoping a reprieve may yet arrive. 

Just then a knock is heard at the door, and the 
provost admits the friar, who seems surprised to 
learn Isabella has not been seen since curfew. He 
adds that there are faint hopes of saving Claudio, 
news the provost eagerly welcomes, before hurrying 
out to answer a second knock. When he returns, 
the friar eagerly asks whether this was the reprieve, 
only to be told no such order has come, to the 
provost's despair. 

It is at this juncture that Angelo's messenger ar- 
rives, and delivers a paper with injunctions that its 
orders be carried out immediately. The friar dedns 

328 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

this the pardon just purchased by Isabella, until 
the provost reads it aloud, when he discovers that 
Bemardine and Claudio are both to be executed, 
the latter's head being sent to the governor in token 
the deed is done! The provost seems horrified, but 
when the friar asks about Bemardine, describes him 
as a hardened criminal and persistent drinker. After 
admitting such a man deserves death, the friar sug- 
gests Bemardine's head be sent to Angelo instead of 
Claudio's, a substitution to which the provost con- 
sents only after the friar has exhibited a letter, signed 
and sealed by the duke, which accredits him fully. 

In another room in the jail, Pompey is comment- 
ing on his past life, when the executioner enters, 
bidding him prepare to behead Bemardine. This 
prisoner is then brought in, too drunk to do more 
than stammer he is not fit for execution, a patent 
fact, as the friar confirms. Bemardine is, therefore, 
sent back to his cell, just as the provost announces 
that a notorious pirate has died in prison, whose 
hair and beard are of the same colour as Claudio's, 
and whose head can, therefore, easily be substituted 
for that of the young man. Concluding this death 
is providential, the friar orders the pirate's head 
sent to Angelo, while Claudio and Bemardine are 
confined in a secret dungeon, where they arc to re- 
main until the duke's return. 

The provost having gone to carry out these orders, 
the friar murmurs he will write to Angelo, an- 
nouncing his master's return home, and bidding him 
meet the duke outside of the city to escort him home. 
While he is thus deciding, the provost passes through 

Measure for Measure 329 

the room, with the head he is bearing to Angelo. 
Just as he goes out, Isabella comes in, and the friar 
hastily decides to keep her ignorant of his inter- 
ference, giving her * heavenly comforts of despair, 
when it is least expected.' When she, therefore, 
breathlessly inquires whether the deputy has sent her 
brother's pardon, she is gravely informed her brother 
is released from all earthly pain, and his head on 
its way to Angelo! Incredulous at first, Isabella, 
overcome with grief, finally raves she will pluck out 
Angelo's eyes. Thereupon the friar bids her be pa- 
tient, adding that, if she conforms to his advice, she 
will be able to seek redress from the duke on the 
morrow, on the very spot where the counsellor and 
Angelo are to meet him. In case she follow his in- 
structions he promises revenge and rehabilitation, 
bidding her, meanwhile, carry a letter to Friar Peter, 
whom she will find at Mariana's house, ready to as- 
sist them both. As Isabella is about to pass out, 
Lucio enters, assuring her he shares her grief for her 
beloved brother, and that, had the duke only been in 
Vienna, Claudio would never have perished. 

When Isabella has gone, another short conversa- 
tion takes place between Lucio and the friar, in the 
course of which the young man again taxes his mas- 
ter with loose morals, revealing, incidentally, that he 
himself is guilty of a sin, which the friar duly notes. 

We now behold a room in Angelo's house, where 
he and the counsellor discuss letters recently re- 
ceived from the duke, but which contradict each 
other. Angelo is amazed that the last missive should 
summon him to meet his superior outside the town, 

330 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

and to proclaim that any one with a grievance 
. against him shall immediately make it known. Al- 
though the counsellor suggests the duke takes these 
measures merely to free them from further re- 
sponsibility, Angelo, — ^whose conscience is uneasy, — 
expresses his doubts in a soliloquy after the coun- 
sellor's departure. Still, he comforts himself with 
the belief that no maid would have the hardihood 
to confess her shame, and feels safe because he has 
done away with Isabella's brother, the only person 
who could have called him to account for dishonour- 
ing her. 

We next see fields outside of town, where the 
duke in person delivers letters which Friar Peter is 
to carry to the provost. After the friar has gone, 
the duke summons his attendants to escort him to 
the appointed tryst. Meantime, in a street near the 
city gate, Isabella and Mariana are preparing, by 
Friar Peter's directions, to fall at the duke's feet, 
and denounce Angelo. While Isabella seems doubt- 
ful, Mariana, full of confidence in her spiritual ad- 
viser, implores her to obey; so Isabella concludes at 
last to do so, saying philosophically, ' 'tis a physic 
that's bitter to sweet end.' They are still debating 
when joined by Friar Peter, who urges them to 
hasten to the gate, as the trumpets have already 
twice sounded, and the duke is about to appear. 

Act V. The fifth act opens at the city gate, just 
as the duke is formally welcomed by Angelo and 
Escalus, whom, in recognition of their good offices, 
he places on either side of him, for the remainder 
of the journey. It is at this moment that Friar 

Measure for Measure 33I 

Peter leads Isabella forward, and that, falling at 
the duke's feet, she loudly calls for justice! With 
the grave assurance that Lord Angelo, here present, 
will see it is awarded her, the duke turns to Isa- 
bella, who rejoins he bids her *seek redemption of 
the devil,' and implores him to grant redress in per- 
son. Hearing this, Angelo, with pretended gpod 
nature, whispers she is crazy, having vainly en- 
treated- him to spare a guilty brother's life. Isa- 
bella, however, interrupts this speech, denouncing 
him as a murderer, and accusing him, besides, of 
having broken the commandments. Although the 
duke now compassionately orders Isabella removed, 
she insists upon a hearing, talking so wildly that 
he first concludes she is insane, only to reverse this 
verdict when he discovers her statements are co- 
herent. They are, besides, supported by Lucio, the 
time-server, who, stepping forward, testifies he urged 
Isabella to plead with Angelo for her brother's life. 
Thus the whole story of Angelo's guilt is divulged; 
but the duke, pretending to disbelieve it, orders 
Isabella ofiE to prison for slandering so worthy an 
official as the immaculate Angelo ! 

Perceiving he can do an ill turn to one he hates 
on account of his virtue, Lucio, who overheard the 
friar advise Isabella to claim justice, suggests this 
is all the fault of a man who spoke in so evil a way 
of the duke that had it not been for his cloth, he 
would have chastised him. When Friar Peter ex- 
claims this cannot be true, Lucio insists so ve- 
hemently, that the friar says his companion will soon 
be vindicated and Isabella proved a liar. Meanwhile, 

332 Stories of Shakespeare^ s Comedies 

Isabella is led away, and Mariana advances in her 
turn to fall at the duke's feet. She remains veiled, 
however, saying she has vowed not to reveal her 
countenance until bidden to do so by her husband. 
In her next breath, however, she admits being 
neither maid, wife, nor widow, statements so con- 
tradictory, that the duke questions her closely, amid 
many forward interruptions on Lucio's part. Be- 
fore long he hears Mariana testify that Angelo, 
while he fancied he was betraying Isabella, consorted 
with his own wife. At these words, Angelo bids 
Mariana remove her veil, which she immediately 
does, expressing great readiness to obey her lawful 
spouse. Then, with face exposed, she explains how 
she took Isabella's place, whereupon Angelo remarks 
that since both women claim he dishonoured them at 
the same time, the falsity of their accusation is palp- 
able, and that he begs permission to settle the case in 
person. This favour the duke readily grants, ap- 
pointing Escalus as his assistant, and ordering that 
the friar, who advised these two women so un- 
wisely, be summoned to answer for his conduct. 

The duke now excuses himself for a while, leav- 
ing his deputies to judge this knotty point. After 
questioning Lucio, who repeats the monk spoke vil- 
lainously of the duke, the counsellor sends for Isa- 
bella, whom he suspects of having been suborned 
by the wicked friar to make this wanton accusation 
against Angelo. The provost soon returns, accom- 
panied by his prisoner and the duke, who has, mean- 
time, resumed his friar habit. The trial proceeds, 
the counsellor experiencing great difficulty in silenc- 

Measure for Measure 333 

ing Lucio, who constantly interjects impudent or 
scurrilous remarks. 

Turning to the friar, the counsellor first inquires 
whether it is he who egged the women on? Al- 
though the friar admits having done so, he asks why 
the duke is not present, saying he does not approve of 
leaving the * trial in the villain's mouth. ' Such a 
statement sounds so disrespectful, that Escalus 
threatens torture, until the friar tells him that, not 
being a subject of the duke, he is beyond reach of 
the law. He adds that his * business in this state ' 
made him * a looker-on here in Vienna,' where he has 
* seen corruption boil and bubble,' a statement viewed 
as such slander that the counsellor orders him 
taken to prison. Then, the forward Lucio boldly 
exclaims he deserves double punishment for speak- 
ing ill of the duke. Although the friar protests it 
was Lucio, himself, who uttered these calumnies, he 
is hustled out of the room, his accuser lending a hand 
so officiously that he jerks off the friar's cowl, thus 
revealing to all present that the duke has been 
among them in disguise. 

Turning to his subjects, the duke now orders Lucio 
arrested, forgives^ the counsellor for his well-meant 
severity, and bids Angelo clear himself immediately, 
or suffer the penalty of his wrath. Seeing all is 
discovered, Angelo exclaims his confession will be 
his trial, and he will sentence himself to death. 
Then the duke summons Mariana, and, hearing she 
was legally betrothed to Angelo, bids friar Peter 
lead them both away, and celebrate the religious mar- 
riage, ere he bring them back to the hall. While 

334 Stories of Shakespeare's Comedies 

they are absent, the counsellor expresses surprise, 
and the duke, turning to Isabella, says she prob- 
ably wonders why he did not use his authority to 
save Claudio? He adds that, although he fully in- 
tended doing so, ' the swift celerity of his death,' 
'brain'd his purpose.' He is just remarking that 
life, ' past fearing death,' is better than a life of 
fear here below, when Angelo and Mariana are 
ushered in, their marriage having meanwhile been 
completed. Addressing Angelo, the duke de- 
crees that, although he has now righted Mariana, 
there should be * measure for measure,' and that, 
having cruelly sentenced to death a man for the 
crime he himself committed, he deserves the same 

At these words the new-made bride falls at the 
duke's feet, pleading for her husband's life, although 
he coldly informs her it is vain, and says she ^all 
have all Angelo's wealth to enable her to purchase a 
better spouse. As her prayers prove futile, 
Mariana calls upon Isabella to aid her, in spite of 
the fact that the duke reminds her it is rash to ask 
for the intervention of one Angelo cruelly wronged. 
Touched by Mariana's sorrow, however, Isabella 
kneels and pleads for Angelo's life, saying her 
brother, * in that he did the thing for which he 
died,' perished justly, and reminding the duke that, 
as Angelo's * act did not o'ertake his bad intent,' his 
life can be spared. Instead of answering the two 
suppliants, the duke demands how it happened that 
Claudio was beheaded at an unusual hour, and is 
informed, it was by special order. On account of 

Measure for Measure 335 

this infraction of the law, the provost is reh'eved of 
office, whereupon he immediately confesses having 
been guilty of another illegal act, that of sparing a 
prisoner's life. When the duke inquires this man's 
name, the provost replies it is Bemardine, whom he 
is bidden produce immediately. During his absence, 
the counsellor, too, intercedes for Angelo, who, how- 
ever, consumed with shame and remorse, craves 
* death more willingly than mercy,' knowing how 
amply he has deserved it. 

It is at this moment the provost ushers in Ber* 
nardine, who is followed by two muffled figures. 
Addressing Bernardine, the duke declares, as the 
friar pronounced him unfit to die, he has decided 
to pardon him, in hopes he may repent before leaving 
this world. Then, the provost brings forward one 
of the muffled figures, saying he is 'almost as like 
Claudio as himself.' Bidding Isabella look at him, 
the duke states that if this youth resembles her 
brother, he will pardon Angelo. Meantime, An- 
gelo has perceived, with relief, that his wicked in- 
tentions have been frustrated, and that the man 
whom he deemed slain still lives. Such is his relief, 
and humbled, repentant mood, that when the duke 
bids him live and love his wife, he gratefully prom- 
ises to do so. Addressing Lucio, the duke publicly 
reveals his depravity, decreeing that, for slandering 
him he shall be whipped, and that, after having made 
such redress as lies in his power for the crime he 
conunitted, he shall be duly hanged. Then, having 
given Lucio this wholesome scare, the merciful duke 
remits all punishments, — save atonement for his 

336 Stories of Shakespeare^ s Comedies 

crime, — ^and Lucio is led away, still punning, for 
nothing is sacred in his eyes. 

Turning to Claudio, the duke gravely bids him 
indemnify Juliet for all she has suffered, wishes long 
life and joy to Mariana, congratulates the counsellor 
upon his blameless conduct, and finally implores 
Isabella to grant him a hearing, declaring if she is 
willing to listen to his proposals, 'what's mine is 
yours, what's yours is mine.' Saying this, he escorts 
her back to the palace, bidding the rest follow, and 
promising to reveal * what's yet behind, that's meet 
you all should know.' 





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